Although micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are an important engine for economic growth with a considerable social impact they continue facing obstacles that limit their potential to contribute to prosperity in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is estimated that in the Western Hemisphere MSMEs represent between 90 and 95 percent of the total registered businesses but they only account, on average, for 40 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the countries of the region. Of these MSMEs, which generate between 50 and 70 percent of jobs in the region, more than a third are headed by women, while about 25 percent are created by entrepreneurs under 35 years of age. With an average life of only 14 months and most of them operating in the informal sector, MSMEs in Latin America and the Caribbean generate less than 8 percent of exports of goods and services and only one third of these businesses have the capacity to engage in international trade of goods and services. Moreover, MSME´s use of technology and quality systems is very limited, and their innovation level is low.
There is potential to enhance the productivity, competitiveness, capacity for innovation and participation of MSMEs in domestic and international markets through their direct or indirect participation in global value chains. As a result, there is growing recognition of the importance of public policies for promoting the development of MSMEs under schemes which enhance the impact of this sector in generating sustainable economic growth and quality jobs. In countries of the region, this has resulted in new initiatives, successful experiences and lessons learned worth sharing.
The Executive Secretariat for
Integral Development of the Organization of American States (OAS), through its
Department of Economic Development (DED), in cooperation with other institutions
working on MSME issues, has been supporting the dialogue on MSME public policies
and programs among countries of the region as well as horizontal cooperation
initiatives that allow countries to take advantage of successful experiences in
the hemisphere and the rest of the world (for further information about the OAS
agenda supporting MSMEs development please visit: