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 2015 ILO Report on SMEs and employment creation provides evidence on the relevance of SMEs for employment, the key constraints faced by SMEs and their workers, and the effectiveness of measures to support this enterprise segment. Relevant ILO normative instruments for SME promotion are listed here.
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
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.
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
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?
Interventions improving the functioning of entire markets or sectors that have the highest potential to create more and better jobs.
Enabling Environment Reform
Productivity and Working Conditions
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.