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Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises Is Key to Improving Living Conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean

Executive Secretary of ECLAC participated in a panel together with the Secretary of State of the United States of America and Secretary General of the OAS.

17 October 2011 | Press Release

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Vista general de la IV Reunión Ministerial de la Iniciativa Caminos a la Prosperidad en las Américas.
Vista general de la IV Reunión Ministerial de la Iniciativa Caminos a la Prosperidad en las Américas.
Foto: CEPAL

(6 October 2011) At the IV Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Ministerial Meeting, which was held on Wednesday 5 October in the Dominican Republic, authorities and international experts stated that the inclusion and promotion of micro, small and medium enterprises is key to lowering inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Those who participated in the panel "New opportunities for development" at the meeting included the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Hillary Clinton, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, and the Vice President for the Private Sector of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Steven Puig.

Alicia Bárcena stated that the region grew in the past years based on three complementary elements: macroeconomic prudence, social progressivism and the generation of greater inclusion. This also enabled the region to lower poverty indicators from 44% in 2002 to 32.1% in 2010.

"The unemployment rates are low. However, it concerns us that these figures -which are between 7% and 8%- are double for young people. According to ECLAC figures, there are approximately 19 million inactive young people, which are in the category of those who do not study or work," she stated.

She added that it is necessary to regain social mobility in the region in order to offer opportunities to young people and the rest of society. To do so, it is very important to work with micro, small and medium enterprises, create enterprises and develop business capacities. "Inclusion involves organization of the various programmes and mechanisms which exist in the countries," she said.

During the meeting, the Executive Secretary of ECLAC presented the document Innovating, gaining market share and fostering social inclusion: success stories in SME development jointly created by ECLAC, IDB and OAS. The publication includes more than 60 cases which show specific experiences of what is done in the region in different areas linked with the pillars of the Pathways to Prosperity initiative and which could be copied in other countries. 

This initiative aims to encourage growth and prosperity through the exchange of experiences, lessons learned and best practices in order to widen the opportunities for all the inhabitants in the region. Strengthening the development of micro, small and medium enterprises is central to this.

"The experiences presented in the ECLAC, IDB and OAS document are an effective example of the vitality, energy and response capacity of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean when the creativity and political and economic will is aligned to promote development with equality," declared Bárcena.

The publication shows that for the success of these programmes, they need carefully deliberated policies. A State must design policies choosing the sectors and opportunities for action which are most capable of making progress according to the resources available and capacities of each country.

It is also important to consider the structural diversity of the region to try to bridge the gaps in productivity and the performance of the large enterprises and micro, small and medium enterprises. For this, the mechanisms must be organized for greater investment in investigation, development and technology. The joint effort between the private and public sector is crucial.

The Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, stated that the document is "a fantastic study" which gives "good ideas on how to progress along this path".

 "It gives us a body of evidence of what really works in the countries and if it works, why not try it? We are proud to support this type of programme in the Americas which helps us to resolve problems together," she said.

During her visit to the Dominican Republic, the Executive Secretary of ECLAC will also participate in the V Americas Competitiveness Forum, during which she will moderate a plenary session entitled "Education and Competitiveness from the Perspective of the Multilateral Organizations". She will also give a presentation on growth and development in the small countries of Central America and the Caribbean, in which she will refer to specialization pattern and foreign trade in the economies of both subregions, their macroeconomic, demographic and social situation and their pending challenges.

Any queries should be addressed to the ECLAC Public Information and Web Services Section. E-mail: dpisantiago@cepal.org; Telephone: (56 2) 210 2040.

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