About the product
MSMEs are an important engine of economic growth and development due to their large share in total employment and their participation in production value chains and trade. However, they are often disadvantaged due to their small operational size and lack of financial resources, skills/knowledge, and outreach. These disadvantages are associated with: poor access to markets; low bargaining power with customers and suppliers leading to low product prices, high costs and lower profits; weak organizational capacities and low-skilled human resources; inadequate institutional support and networking; and difficulty accessing finance. With regard to the last point, governments and related agencies have devised mechanisms in recent decades to facilitate improved flows of finance to MSMEs, but many challenges remain. As this publication addresses, MSMEs are particularly vulnerable to the socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the policy responses enacted, and they require supportive policy measures from state agencies to cope. Indeed, the virus has helped expose those vulnerabilities, as MSMEs typically lack the additional resilience that comes from operating at scale, nor do they have diversified business models that make it easier to pivot. Yet the virus itself did not actually cause the unprecedented economic downturn; rather, governments strategically shut down their economies in order to battle the virus more effectively, rightly placing public health above economic well-being. The resulting economic crisis has thus been deliberately induced by policy-makers – a somewhat new phenomenon.