Within the Platform for General Social Dialogue “Sustainable Development for All” and in the context of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Agenda 2030, CEVES has been engaging in a dialogue (individually and in smaller roundtable discussions) with key Serbian entrepreneurs for over two years. The purpose of these discussions is to identify the development needs of the Serbian economy and initiate initiatives that will contribute to realizing this vision by 2030. In doing so, CEVES is promoting the role that leading Serbian SMEs can and should play in sustainable development in Serbia.

Some of the topics we have discussed so far include establishing a guarantee fund for genuine export support, strengthening support for companies investing in workforce development, support programs for the development of smaller SMEs as suppliers to leading MSPs, addressing difficulties related to importing specific products or services that are difficult or expensive to obtain in Serbia. We believe that for a fruitful dialogue, it is necessary to involve as many stakeholders as possible. Therefore, in addition to engaging with company representatives, we have also been in discussions with government representatives (RAS, Ministry of Education, NSZ, regional development agencies), business associations (Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Association of Serbian Employers), international community (GIZ, SDC, USAID, EU PRO), civil society organizations, academic institutions, and experts.

MSP 100
MSP 100

The challenge we want to highlight lies in the fact that there could be many more such companies, while at the same time, the presence of those already existing is not sufficiently "utilized". Our analyses have shown that the SME sector is highly fragmented (unusually so) and has historically developed in isolation, without collaboration and adequate support. While this characteristic was once an advantage, as it brought greater flexibility and less reliance on others, at some point, particularly when growth and expansion are needed, it becomes a burden. To make progress, connectivity is necessary - not only among firms but also between firms and educational and developmental institutions and organizations. Connectivity is important because small and medium-sized enterprises often lack the capacity to overcome developmental challenges on their own.

Our idea is to promote a collective identity and the strength of the domestic economy, demonstrating to it “what it can achieve” through collaboration, utilization of opportunities from foreign and domestic funds, and following global economic trends. Additionally, we aim to continuously remind and support the importance of assistance for SMEs to the government, fostering initiatives to eliminate poor institutional practices and inadequate legislative solutions. In this sense, our goal is for one of the outcomes of our dialogues to contribute to a new SME strategy.

Thank you for your interest. We will soon open registration for the SME100 Expo 2024: New Growth Agenda for SMEs.