United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs)

Related Goals

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Micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  MSMEs help reduce levels of poverty through job creation and economic growth, they are key drivers of employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship for women, youth and groups in vulnerable situations. They are the majority of the world’s food producers and play critical roles in closing the gender gap as they ensure women’s full and effective participation in the economy and in society. Despite their significant contributions to SDGs, MSMEs have been hit the hardest by the negative socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The urgent need to enhance MSME resilience has been prioritized in the General Assembly resolution A/RES/74/270 ‘Global Solidarity to fight the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the Secretary-General’s report ‘Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic’.

In accordance with official expressions of interest from nine developing countries, the project ‘Strengthening National Capacities for Enhancing MSME Resilience and Building Forward Better to Accelerate the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in developing countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative’ was launched in 2022. The project is funded by the United Nations Peace and Development Fund (PDF). It supports the implementation of integrated and inclusive policy measures that enhance MSME resilience. It  builds the capacity of policymakers to design and deliver effective policy measures in a demand-driven approach, as well as to improve the capacity of MSME entrepreneurs, particularly women and youth MSME entrepreneurs, in accessing to financial resources, capturing high-value market opportunities and adopting innovative techniques. The project leverages partnerships with government counterparts, Resident Coordinators’ Offices, UN Country Teams and private sector partners and pursues opportunities to align with inter-governmental process, global and regional initiatives. It endeavors to maximize MSME contribution to shared prosperity, inclusive economic growth, sustainable production and consumption, reductions in inequality, and solidarity and cooperation among countries in Africa and Asia. The project covers nine pilot countries: Cambodia, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Zimbabwe.



This section includes reports the programme has delivered, including global reports covering topics such as contributions of Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), youth entrepreneurship and the analysis on roles of MSMEs for the SDGs elaborated in the 2020 Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). The section also includes national reports and publications customized to specific issues related to MSME growth in pilot countries, including MSME formalization, MSME resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic and the mainstreaming of MSMEs in regional market integration.


Thematic reports

Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and their role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Cover photo - MSMEs and SDGs

Background: This report aims to demonstrate the relevance, roles and contributions of Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It examines the roles of MSMEs in each of the SDGs, as well as MSMEs in economic activities related to creating employment, incomes and livelihood opportunities, particularly for the poor and marginalized groups. Through detailed analysis, the report establishes linkages between MSMEs and their contributions to all seventeen goals.

Download link: https://sdgs.un.org/publications/micro-small-and-medium-sized-enterprises-msmes-and-their-role-achieving-sustainable

Exploring Youth Entrepreneurship

Cover photo - Youth Entrepreneurship

Background: This report explores aspects of youth entrepreneurship as a mechanism to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It sets out the position and challenges of youth in Cambodia, Lao PDR, the Philippines, the Gambia, and Fiji, and investigates the dynamics of youth entrepreneurship through an overview of key debates, including the importance of context and the role of the informal economy. The report presents good practices to promote youth entrepreneurship as a way to maintain global employment rates and provide sustained livelihood opportunities to vulnerable groups.

Download link: https://sdgs.un.org/publications/exploring-youth-entrepreneurship-24572

Improving MSME Formalization through the Cooperative Enterprise Model








MSME formalization requires a multifaceted and multi-stakeholder approach. To support formalization, government departments need to establish policies and create distinct regulatory bodies. Through creation of linkages – such as knowledge and excellence hubs - governments could enable already formalized entities to mentor informal MSMEs, supporting their preparations for the transition to formalization. The cooperative business model can be emulated within the context of MSME formalization. Cooperatives are people-centred businesses entities that are value- and principle- driven with focuses on local communities. As such, cooperatives can serve both as a stimulus and a catalyst for engagement in the formalization process, and as a means of eliminating the many existing barriers to the successful completion of the formalization process.

Download linkhttps://sdgs.un.org/publications/improving-msme-formalization-through-c…;

National reports

Supporting Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Cambodia through Streamlining Business Registration Policies

Cover photo - MSMEs in Cambodia

Background: Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of the Cambodian economy, comprising more than 90 percent of enterprises in the country. In 2018, MSMEs provided over 70 percent of employment opportunities and more than half of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The upgrading and modernizing of MSMEs has become a strategic priority in the Cambodian Industrial Development Plan (IDP) 2015-2025. This report includes policy guidance for simplified MSME formalization and a comparative study of MSME formalization policies in four countries, namely Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. This report is a joint effort by the Division for Sustainable Development Goals in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (DSDG/DESA) and the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft (MIH), the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Download link: https://sdgs.un.org/publications/supporting-micro-small-and-medium-sized-enterprises-msmes-achieve-sustainable

Impact Assessment of the Covid-19 pandemic on MSMEs in The Gambia


Background: A total of 500 MSME entrepreneurs were interviewed in the assessment, encompassing second-hand clothing dealers, poultry farmers, horticulture farmers and fish sellers. The assessment found that most entrepreneurs reported that the virus has led to a reduction in their earnings (62.0 %) and the proportion was highest for Horticulture Farmers (67.9%) followed by fish sellers (60.7%). The assessment also found that the pandemic has led to high indebtedness as reported by 11.6% of the respondents. To compensate loss of revenues, MSME entrepreneurs reported diverse mitigating measures, including starting other business, carrying out additional paid employment and borrowing from families and friends. Less than a quarter of interviewed entrepreneurs expressed their receipt of government support. Cash and food donations are identified as means they have to resort for the survival of their families.

Download linkhttps://sdgs.un.org/documents/impact-assessment-covid-19-pandemic-msmes…; 


This section provides links to online resources on critical topics related to Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) growth, including access to finance, formalization, resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic and MSME for green growth.


Access to Finance


MSME Resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic

MSME for Green Growth