Interview with the Manager of the recent SME Support Activities in the World Bank.
The World Bank Group promotes small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) growth through both systemic and targeted interventions. A critical challenge is to root the many activities now undertaken in this broad space in a clear understanding of the characteristics and dynamics of SMEs their role in the broader economy; and their actual and potential contribution to jobs, growth, and shared prosperity. A closely related challenge is to formulate clear strategies that connect interventions to intended outcomes and are accompanied by solid measurement systems that provide evidence of results and allow learning.
Targeting means focusing benefits on one size-class of firms to the exclusion of others. Targeted support for SMEs (TSME) is a big business for the World Bank Group, averaging around $3 billion a year in commitments, expenditures, and gross exposure over the 2006–12 period. In the context of broader reforms, TSME support can be a powerful tool and, given the size of the recent program, it is vital for the World Bank Group to use it effectively. Targeting SMEs is not an end in itself, but a means to create economies that can employ more people and create more opportunity for citizens to achieve prosperity. A thriving and growing SME sector is associated with rapidly growing economies.