The United Nations set aside 27 June to annually celebrate the role that micro, small and medium enterprises play in the global economy, poverty reduction and the attainment of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
This year, UN agencies in Iraq share a statement to recognize MSMEs at the heart of any resilient recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, and climate crisis. They contribute to the structural transformation of economies through decent jobs creation and income generation, particularly for vulnerable population, hence addressing the root causes of irregular migration.
"Following the economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and in view of the current food insecurity, MSMEs can be effective agents of change to help advance in rebuilding and recovery efforts" said UN Resident Coordinator in Iraq, Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, adding: "They also have the potential to adopt actions in their business practices to contribute to 'building back better', in adapting to and mitigating climate change". MSMEs and start-ups need assistance to be the driving forces behind relevant innovations and take up new 'environmentally-friendly' opportunities, as well as to improve their resilience to future shocks. Empowering MSMEs can thus contribute to a transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all and to building greater stability and resilience.
In Iraq, MSMEs represent a large share of the private sector. Supporting Iraqi MSMEs is instrumental for economic diversification, women and youth empowerment and ensuring sustainable peacebuilding efforts. Furthermore, supporting MSMEs comprises assisting young people as the upcoming employers and employees, leveraging on Iraq's demographic dividend. The White Paper for Economic Reform outlines the Government of Iraq's goals of attracting investment, inclusive development, introducing e-governance systems and fostering local production. By building on this impetus for reform and supporting MSMEs, the United Nations can help improve the overall business environment for MSMEs, increase their capacity to compete and assist the Iraqi government in achieving the goals set out in the Iraq's White Paper.
The UN in Iraq is working collaboratively to support MSMEs, particularly in high potential sectors for economic diversification and job creation, such as agriculture and agri-food value chains and the culture and creative industries. Improving MSMEs' competitiveness and value chain upgrading opportunities is extremely needed nowadays in Iraq to boost the local economy and create sustainable livelihood opportunities. Well-defined strategies with mutually reinforcing interventions, fostering productive alliances, building bridges between the public and private sector and enhancing human and social capital, with a focus on young people, are crucial.
MSMEs need coordinated action and targeted support to untap their potential for sustainable and inclusive growth and decent work creation. We will continue to join our efforts to support MSMEs in Iraq to ensure they have the capacity and resources to leverage a green transition, increase their productivity and competitiveness and foster employment. The time to act is now.
- Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq
- Eric Buchot, Head of Country Programme, International Trade Centre (ITC)
- Dr. Salah ElHajjHassan, FAO Representative, Iraq
- Ally Raza Qureshi, WFP Representative, Iraq
- Maha Kattaa, ILO Country Coordinator, Iraq
- George Gigauri, IOM Chief of Mission, Iraq
- Erik Willems, Regional coordinator, UNCTAD
- Zena Ali Ahmad, Resident Representative, UNDP Iraq
- Paolo Fontani, Director and Representative to Iraq, UNESCO
- Jean-Nicolas Beuze, UNHCR Representative, Iraq
- Mads Oyen, OiC Representative, UNICEF