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 five 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 self-employment or in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). These MSMEs, most often run by women, operate in the informal economy with little to no access to social protection. Reassessing contingency plans, reform priorities, policies and ecosystems to promote sustainable and resilient MSMEs is crucial to improving productivity and working conditions, and achieving robust economic recovery and growth.

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. 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

5. 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.