Jun 282013

The WASME 19th annual International Conference on SMEs will be held under the theme: “Beyond the downturn-Revitalising the global economy through small and medium enterprises” and will examine SME policies and support programmes. The Conference will be held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, 18th to 21st September, 2013.


The World Association for Small and Medium Enterprises’ (WASME) annual International Conference on Small and Medium Enterprise development (ICSME) is a prestigious annual event, which brings together under one roof business support organisations, policy makers, banks and financial institutions, international experts, academics, entrepreneurs, UN and other international and multi-national aid agencies involved in small business development.

Ashish J Thakkar, founder of Mara Group, will feature as headline speaker at the 19th WASME International Conference on SMEs. Billed as Africa’s youngest billionaire (a title he eschews) and named by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader, Ashish is a serial entrepreneur who started his first business at the age of 15 years. Today Mara Group operates in 26 countries, employing 7,000 people.

Taking place under the theme Beyond the downturn: Revitalising the global economy through small and medium enterprises, the 19th WASME ICSME will examine past and current impact of the global economic slowdown which started in 2008 on small business start-up, survival and growth. Issues to be examined include: How have different countries responded to mitigate the negative impact on small businesses? What lessons have been learnt? What significance do different nations now place on the role of small business in stabilising the still fragile world economy and re-launching it onto a new growth path? What policies, strategies and programmes are being adopted to put small business at the heart of future growth? Conference topics include:

  • Creating enabling SME startup and growing conditions through improving the regulatory environment and strengthening small business advocacy
  • Cities and towns driving the development of sustainable and competitive SMEs – the case of the City of Durban and its sister cities abroad
  • Fostering technology-based entrepreneurship and small business – policies, methodologies and practices for effective stimulation of innovation, technology transfer and technology commercialisation
  • Fostering SME-based industrialisation – strategies, programmes, experiences and future directions
  • Encouraging and supporting SME internationalisation and export growth through globally-competitive SME clusters and networks
  • Strengthening SME competitiveness, sustainability and profitability through cleaner production techniques
  • Increasing start-up and SME funding through non-traditional financing – with special emphasis on crowd funding and angel investing
  • Increasing small business presence in the global marketplace through digital marketing

Leading policymakers, experts and entrepreneurs from around the world will present their views and ideas on the above topics and more. Breakaway sessions will discuss each topic in-depth and formulate proposals to inform current and future policy and practice in each of these areas around the world.

ICSME 2013 features leading speakers from around the world, including government Ministers and policymakers, SME promotion practitioners, experts and entrepreneurs themselves. Please check here regularly for speaker profiles, which will be updated continually as invited speakers confirm.

We are pleased to announce that the following international speakers are now confirmed for the 19th ICSME:

  • Mr Ashish J Thakkar Founder, Mara Group (United Arab Emirates)
  • Ms Christin Pfeiffer Secretary General, International Network for Small and Medium Enterprises (Italy)
  • Mr Gyan P. Agarwal Secretary General, WASME (India)
  • Dr. Khaled Nagaty CEO, Metropolitan Consulting (Egypt)
  • Mr Mark Brennan Commissioner, Australian Small Business Commissioner (Australia)
  • Dr Paolo Anselmo President, Italian Business Angels Network Association (Italy)
  • Mr Paul Niederer CEO, Australian Small Scale Offerings Board (Australia)
  • Dr P C Sabharwal Senior Adviser, WASME (India)
  • Mr Rajat Batra CEO, STENUM Asia Sustainable Development Society (India)
  • Mr Rohit Shukla CEO, Larta Institute (USA)
  • Mr T.R. Bajalia Deputy Managing Director, Small Industries Development Bank of India (India)
  • Mr Vedat Kunt CEO, VEGO Consulting (Turkey)

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