Select WEDF 2014 parallel sessions to explore the potential of SMEs

20 August 2014
ITC News

Participants at the 14th World Export Development Forum (WEDF) in Rwanda next month will be able to select two of six parallel sessions to attend. The sessions will explore different aspects of job creation through exports by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – the main theme of the conference.

There will be three parallel sessions in the afternoon of 16 September:

Participants in the first session, entitled ‘Growing SMEs through impact investing’, will explore how countries can leverage impact investment funds to support development priorities, and how trade support institutions can help SMEs access the growing market for financing. A May 2014 study by J.P. Morgan Social Finance and the Global Impact Investing Network forecasts that funds committed to impact investing this year are expected to increase 20% to nearly US$ 13 billion, with the bulk of the funding flowing to emerging markets and developing countries.

The second session, titled ‘E-solutions for SME export growth’, will focus on the entrepreneurial opportunities for digital business in Africa both in direct e-exports and in using new technology to facilitate traditional exports. There is enormous potential for growth, as more than half of the world’s mobile broadband subscriptions are in developing countries. SMEs can use online marketplaces to access business opportunities in new regional and global markets.

‘Sustainability standards: from barrier to opportunity’ will be the topic of the third session, in light of businesses’ increased emphasis on social and environmental responsibility in production. The discussion will centre on how developing-country SMEs can increase their competitiveness by learning to comply with standards, improving product quality and making production more efficient.

There will be three additional parallel sessions on 17 September:

Participants in the fourth session, ‘Building a brand: export marketing for developing countries’, will hear success stories about the business benefits of using a well-developed brand. Effective branding and marketing can be a game-changer for SMEs looking to differentiate their products and services and add value to their goods, which ultimately contribute to increased sales and client loyalty.

The fifth session on ‘Spurring innovation through SME incubators’ will feature a discussion on the benchmarks, strategies and business skills that entrepreneurs need in order to found a business incubator, as well as possibilities for cooperation among incubators in different countries. Entrepreneurs are increasingly starting up incubators all over the developing world, including throughout sub-Saharan Africa, in a variety of sectors.

The final session, which focuses on the topic of ‘Trade in services: The next frontier’, will emphasize the increasing importance of the services sector, which drives GDP growth, reduces poverty, increases employment, fuels exports of value-added goods and attracts foreign direct investment. Services account for roughly half of most national economies, and productivity gains in this sector make a greater potential contribution to sustainable economic development than those in other sectors.

Delegates who are registered for WEDF 2014 can select the parallel sessions they would like to attend by logging back into the registration interface. Registration is open to those who are interested in signing up.

Visit the WEDF webpage for more information on the programme, high-level speakers and opportunities to network with hundreds of other participants, including business leaders, senior policymakers and heads of trade support institutions.

WEDF is organized by the International Trade Centre, the only United Nations organization with an exclusive focus on assisting SMEs. The event will be hosted by the Rwanda Development Board.