Small and Medium Enterprises Unit

In line with the decent work agenda of the ILO, the Small and Medium Enterprises Unit seeks to unlock the potential of creating more and better jobs in small businesses - a sector where the bulk of employment is being provided.

The unit's work focuses on six key areas:

1. Entrepreneurship and Management Skills

  1. Start and Improve Your Business - SIYB

    A set of training packages for different groups ranging from a first orientation for potential start-ups to in-depth training for existing enterprises, offered in more than 100 countries with more than 6 Mio participants over the last ten years.

  2. Women's Entrepreneurship Development (WED)

    Training and support services for women who wish to start and run their businesses, with a gender perspective that contributes to their empowerment.

2. SME Productivity, Working Conditions and Resilience

  1. SME Productivity, Working Conditions and Resilience

    More than 70% of the workforce in developing economies is in MSMEs, most of which operate in the informal economy with little to no access to social protection. Reassessing contingency plans, reform priorities and policies is crucial to improving productivity and working conditions, and achieving robust economic recovery.

  2. Productivity Ecosystems for Decent Work

    Productivity Ecosystems for Decent Work Programme addresses the root causes of low productivity across policy, sector and enterprise levels for win-win solutions that improve decent work and that ensure, through social dialogue and workplace cooperation, that gains are distributed equitably.

  3. Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises

    Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) is a global programme that improves productivity and working conditions in SMEs.

3. Enterprise Formalization

  1. Enterprise Formalization

    Advisory services and support on how to reduce informality and facilitate a transition of enterprises to formality, as a way to create more and better jobs.

4. Greening SMEs

  1. Greening SMEs

    There is growing evidence that links SMEs to environmental sustainability. More needs to be done to support SMEs to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change and adopt green practices. Through helping SMEs improve resource efficiency and circularity, the ILO has been strengthening efforts on greening SMEs through promoting green jobs, productivity, inclusive markets, enterprise formalization and an enabling business environment to ensure a just transition to climate resilient economies.

5. Access to Markets

  1. SCI - Systems Change Initiative for productive employment

    The Systems Change Initiative (SCI) is one of four cross-cutting pillars in the Sida-ILO Partnership (2022–25). The SCI builds on and applies a market systems development (MSD) approach to create decent work and productive employment opportunities for the working poor. The SCI follows in the footsteps of the Lab initiative, funded by SECO, which closed in 2020, and which aimed to generate and apply knowledge on how MSD can lead to sustainable decent work.

  2. Value Chain Development

    Interventions improving the functioning of entire markets or sectors that have the highest potential to create more and better jobs.

  3. Approach to Inclusive Market Systems (AIMS) for Refugees and Host Communities

6. Enabling Environment Reform

  1. Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises

    Advisory services on how to assess the environment in which businesses operate, as well as to formulate, implement, and monitor reform proposals.