MSMEs transform the present into a secure future
MSMEs transform the present into a secure future
By: Jorge Martínez, Service Designer FUNDES Catalyst.
Let us take a moment to reflect on 2019. The strategy, planning, and everything that the big companies have prepared for this year has taken a different direction, in many cases a negative one. The context has forced them to make difficult decisions. For some of them, this is not just a strategy to minimize risk, but an attempt to ensure their survival
For the smallest, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), it is quite different. This is because most of these Latin American companies do not have planning and strategy processes in place. At the same time, the common denominator of many of these companies is the lack of a vision for the future, which in any other context would undoubtedly be considered a weakness, but in this context becomes an opportunity in the crisis.
OPPORTUNITY FOR DEVELOPMENT
There is a lot of talk about the uncertainty caused by the economic crisis of 2008, but few talk about the great solutions that have emerged in the midst of this crisis, innovations that have completely changed our lives.
In 2009, two former Yahoo! employees founded WhatsApp, one of the most used mobile communication platforms in the world. That same year, two entrepreneurs founded UBER after failing to find a cab service in Paris one night. This was to completely change mobility and give the concept of the sharing economy a final push.
We do not know, and maybe it will take some time before it becomes a reality, but at this moment there are many small entrepreneurs who, faced with the adverse scenario, are eagerly looking for new solutions and developing the innovations necessary for their business models to survive. In this process of resilience, entrepreneurs will test their ability to reinvent themselves.
SO WHERE ARE WE HEADING?
It seems that all the scenarios presented project bleak prospects for MSMEs, not only in Latin America but worldwide. If we are realistic, the market will be very hard, regardless of the countercyclical measures taken by each country.
The most important thing for this sector will be to find the sources of strengthening, resilience, and innovation to face what is coming. In this sense, I allow myself to reflect on the three axes that will determine the future of Latin American MSMEs.
1. Digitalization: the context has accelerated what was inevitable anyway for Latin American MSMEs. The big step towards digitalization, which they have been reluctant to take, has become one of the best ways to survive in the current context. Of course, even if the situation returns to a “normal” channel, the benefits of digital platforms, which Latin American microentrepreneurs have not yet taken advantage of, will boost digital commerce in the region once and for all.
2. Adaptability: all scenarios lead to the need to reinvent the business ecosystem in the fight for survival. MSMEs will have to reinvent their business models, the way they market their products, and the way they run their businesses, but that will not be enough. Microentrepreneurs have an obligation to strengthen the capabilities that will lead to greater resilience in the short and medium-term. Strengthening businesses today is not a matter of development, but a matter of survival.
3. A better understanding of risks: in a “normal” scenario, few MSMEs think about vision, strategy, innovation, and development. There are few entrepreneurs who see their business as more than just a means to make a living. Today, it is clear that it no longer matters whether your business is the smallest of the traditional channels or a mid-sized, growing company. At this point, risk-taking is no longer optional. At that moment, taking risks becomes the only way to steer the ship and move forward. It is not the time to be afraid, it is the time to make the decisions that will determine the future of our business.
These three axes have also determined the path of FUNDES in recent years because as an organization we know for sure that the future of MSMEs is digital. Therefore, FUNDES has adapted to this era with technological tools that allow us to reach and influence a greater number of MSMEs. In this vision, the risks were taken in creating new solutions to develop the millions of Latin American MSMEs always turn into enormous benefits, as we know that this contributes to the economic and social development of an entire region.
FUNDES Latin America is a consulting firm with more than 35 years of experience in developing MSMEs and their successful integration into the value chain of large corporations. FUNDES has worked with more than 100 multinational companies, with more than 30 governments, development agencies, and foundations, and has implemented projects in 17 Latin American countries that have impacted and transformed the lives of more than one million micro, small and medium enterprises, with value co-creation programs and innovative and competitive solutions to the main challenges of the sector.
- FUNDES Catalyst
Is the business unit of FUNDES Latinoamerica dedicated to promoting micro-entrepreneurs who are otherwise excluded from innovative services in Latin America’s traditional markets.
Latin America’s traditional marketplaces are excluded. We develop, launch and operate innovative solutions and start-ups to solve the fundamental business problems of micro and small enterprises, which are typically family-owned and represent 98% of all businesses in the region.