Small Matters

  1. Small matters: Who is providing jobs in sectors at risk from COVID-19?

  2. InfoStories

    The power of small: Unlocking the potential of SMEs

  3. New report

    Small Matters: Global evidence on the contribution to employment by the self-employed, micro-enterprises and SMEs

  4. Video 

    Report in Short: Small business matters

  5. ILC report

    Small and medium-sized enterprises and decent and productive employment creation

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.

Message from ILO's Director-General Guy Ryder for International MSME Day 2020

Five things SMEs need to survive COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit Small and Medium Enterprises and their workers hard. So what do SMEs need and what has worked in previous calamities to help them survive? Here are our top five policy options.

SME resilience-Covid-19 resources

The COVID 19 pandemic will have a strong effect on labour markets worldwide. Especially in developing economies, where more than 70% of the workforce is in self-employment or works in micro, and small enterprises... (read more)

Small Matters: Global evidence on the contribution to employment by the self-employed, micro-enterprises and SME's
Drawing on a new ILO database, this 2019 report provides an up-to-date and realistic assessment of the global contribution of self-employment and micro- and small enterprises to employment – both in the formal and the informal economy. This ground-breaking study reveals that seven in 10 workers are self-employed or in small businesses, a finding that has significant implications for employment and enterprise support policies world-wide.

The unit's work focuses on four key areas: Entrepreneurship and Management Skills, Access to Markets, Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises and Productivity and Working Conditions.

Entrepreneurship and Management Skills

  1. © Miriam Christensen

    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. © J. Silberberg/Panos Pictures

    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.

Access to Markets

  1. THE LAB
    Market systems development for decent work

    The Lab is a global initiative funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) that generates and applies knowledge on how a market systems approach can lead to sustainable decent work.
    In other words: how can we make markets work better for the poor?

  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

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.

  2. Enterprise Formalization

Productivity and Working Conditions

  1. Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises - SCORE

    Training and in-factory counseling for medium sized companies from emerging markets producing for large international buyers, covering issues such as workplace cooperation, quality management, and occupational safety and health.