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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Small Business in the Shadow of the Pyramids
Small business is a hot topic these days.

In the United States and other developed nations, it seems everyone wants to jump on the small business bandwagon. There is hardly a newspaper or business magazine that doesn't offer a "small business" section -- or at least cover small business articles regularly. The small business vote is being courted by politicians in much the same way the labor union vote traditionally has been sought. And official US policy supports small business and entrepreneurism, as we have noted previously here at Small Business Trends.

In other parts of the world, it is pretty much the same story -- and maybe even more pronounced. SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are being touted as the solution to faltering economies...and the lifeblood of their nations' futures.

Yet, it is not clear how much of this is mere lip service -- or whether developing nations are capable of increasing their support for SMEs.

Let's take a case in point: Egypt.

The Egyptian government announced that SMEs represent 98% of that country's private enterprises. The government espouses support for SMEs and as one report says, they are being viewed as the lifejacket for the Egyptian economy.

Nongovernmental aid agencies from other countries have initiated aid programs to help Egypt's SMEs. Predictably, the United States is in there with its USAID program, making small business assistance a priority. Italy also has provided aid.

But, according to one account, the Egyptian government does not put its money where its mouth is. Small businesses are beset by all the traditional issues: too much government regulation and bureaucracy; high taxes that inhibit growth; lack of access to expansion funding.

What's it going to take to make developing nations like Egypt more supportive of SMEs? Time and commitment. It takes a long time to bring government in line with new policies. And it takes commitment to stay the course.
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