Executive Director COMSATS, Ambassador Dr. Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, was invited by the International Network for Small and Medium Enterprises (INSME), Italy, to participate as a panelist in one of the sessions of 18th Annual Meeting of INSME, held on 1-2 December 2022, in Baku, Azerbaijan. Held in collaboration with KOBIA, Azerbaijan’s Department for SMEs, the meeting had the participation of state officials, businessmen, representatives of international organizations, and member institutions of INSME (with COMSATS being one) from different parts of the world.
The two-day event themed on ‘Empowering SMEs: Economic Diversification and Green Growth’, comprised of four sessions of panel discussions during the first day, focusing on sustainability and energy challenges for SMEs; building SMEs readiness to cope with current and future crises; promoting innovation for a green growth; and policy responses.
Speaking during the session on ‘Building SMEs readiness to cope with current and future crisis’, Dr. Zakaria suggested that SMEs need to consider adding diversity to their products and services; adapt to the changing dynamics of the business world through use of technologies, go beyond borders to acquire greater share in the regional and global markets and compete with MNCs; and work towards preparedness to survive in the face of challenges. He underlined that respective governments with major stakes have a responsibility to ensure sustainability of SMEs. Dr. Zakaria opined that Governments should lay down policy frameworks that, among other things, could enable SMEs develop skills of their workforce. He, in particular emphasized digitization and innovations as a means to lessen vulnerability and maintain continuity in businesses during crises.
During the second day, General Assembly of INSME was held where board members and representatives of the member organizations participated. Ambassador Zakaria apprised about COMSATS, as well as its ongoing and future activities. Welcoming cooperation between COMSATS and INSME, he shared prospective interventions that could be made jointly by the two organizations. He underlined the need for the international community and intergovernmental organizations, such as COMSATS to feel obliged to play their part in supporting the developing countries to bridge their resource gaps.
The meeting concluded on the note of expanding regional and international collaboration to support SMEs and giving voice to their concerns and challenges.