Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) must embrace digital technology, diversity and the push towards net zero carbon if they are to thrive in a rapidly changing world.


That is the conclusion of a global recommendation published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) into the future of entrepreneurship.


There is a major push to persuade Government to implement the recommendations and support SMEs to reach their full potential. This is echoed by Liverpool-based social enterprise The Women’s Organisation, as one of the most important voices in the start-up/SME space.


In recent days Rishi Sunak, one of two candidates running for leadership of the Conservative Party, along with Liz Truss, has spoken of the importance of backing firms to invest in new technology.


He said the Government was already looking at a new tax relief scheme that would support SMEs investing in productivity-boosting technology. This would replace the existing ‘super deduction scheme’ which is due to expire in spring 2023.


The OECD recommendation offers a blueprint that aims to maximise the potential of SMEs, entrepreneurs and new start-ups. It says that in an increasingly digital world it is critical those running SMEs are adopting the latest digital technologies and processes. Essential to this is access to both digital infrastructure and skills training and development.


Previously, The Women’s Organisation has highlighted how the UK economy is ‘missing a trick’ by not doing enough to encourage people from all sections of the community to consider starting their own businesses. It has played a leading role in reaching out to women and those from racial minority backgrounds with considerable success.


And for SMEs, sustainability is no longer optional. The world is now united in the aspiration to reach ambitious net zero carbon goals by 2050. Opting to play a full role in the decarbonisation agenda is not just the right thing to do, it also opens up huge opportunities to make your own business more energy-efficient and create a more sustainable supply chain.


Policy and research co-ordinator at The Women’s Organisation, Helen Burkinshaw, said: “Every day at the moment it feels like start-ups and SMEs are increasingly prohibited. With depleting trade deals, rising costs of materials and the energy price hike, businesses operating in the UK are already facing an uncertain and unprecedented future – certainly in the short to medium term.

“SMEs are critical to our economy in the UK and imperative to our recovery post-pandemic. It is more important than ever that the Government do more to support and enable their growth and development. SMEs are our lifeblood and they need a lifeline.


“As we anticipate the announcement of new Prime Minister on September 5th, there are three commitments I would like to see to business. Firstly, I would urge the Government to please put the politics of Brexit aside and focus on improving the trading relationship between the UK and the EU.


“Further, I would like to see grants and loans made available in the short term to help mitigate rising costs. Thirdly, introduce tax incentives to businesses making demonstrable efforts to digitise and decarbonise.”


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