Lahore - Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar has stated that development of SME sector is the top priority of present government for creating employment and curbing poverty in the country.

He was delivering inaugural speech at 3rd SME Conference organized by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) in collaboration with University of Management and Technology (UMT) at Alhamra Hall.

He acknowledged significance of SMEs and vowed to make Pakistan a “business friendly country” by devising conducive policies based upon solid research. He said that the Government had embarked upon an ambitious plan to boost the economy by making interventions in key areas of economic importance with a special focus on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which have a pervasive presence across various economic sectors, and are an integral part of the present Government’s economic development strategy.  He said, Pakistan is seeking to strengthen its economic position at the global level. Implementation of research-based policy making across SME sector has become a fundamental necessity and I see that we have taken a first step towards developing this research culture in Pakistan, through this conference, he added.

He was glad to note that the 3rd SME Conference was planned to avail true and maximum benefits of research to meet the challenges faced by the SME sector. He acknowledged that the two-day Conference will bring SMEs, business development organizations and researchers at one platform in an effort to bridge the Industry-academia gap – to determine the true value of research and to translate it into tangible action.

He termed the thematic areas of this conference quite realistic and logical. The ‘SME Policy’, ‘Entrepreneurship & startup ecosystem in Pakistan’, ‘sustainable development’, ‘China Pak Economic Corridor and opportunities for SMEs’ and ‘China Pak Economic Corridor and Regional Integration’ are the important areas which need immediate attention in forging ahead, he said and hoped that that panel discussions and research papers presentation on the aforementioned themes and recommendations emerging would be equally beneficial for all stakeholders including researchers and the policy makers.

Mr Sher Ayub, Chief Executive Officer of Smeda, presented the address of welcome on the occasion. The inaugural session was also addressed by Dr Muhammad Aslam, Rector of UMT, Charles Schneider, Senior Private Sector Specialist, International Finance Corporation (IMF), World Bank Group and Dr. Sean K S Shin, Dean Global Education Institute, NAMSEOUL University, South Korea.

A large number of SMEs, Economic Experts and Research students attended the conference, prominent amongst whom were Mr Rehmatullah Javaid, Siddiqur Rehman Rana, Mr Azmat Javaid, Dr. Fuad Hashim Rabbani, Mr Javaid Khattak, Ashfaq Ahmad, Ahmad Mansoor, Ms. Nadia Jahangir Seth and Mr. Hassanien Javaid, Provincial Chief of SMEDA Punjab.

The Smeda CEO delivered the address of welcome and appreciated all partners and organizers including University of Management & Technology (UMT), Association of Management Development Institutions of Pakistan (AMDIP), IBA-Sukkur University and Institute of Business Management (IoBM) Karachi for collaborating with SMEDA in their endeavors to highlight the importance of research to identify the potential of SMEs for inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.  He said after success of the first & second National SME Conference held in 2016 & 2017, this 3rd SME Conference is a significant event with researchers and representatives from other countries including TJPU University China & NamSeoul University South Korea to share their experiences.

The conference, he said, is an important step to provide the necessary impetus to create an environment where an extensive research base can be developed, and which will subsequently help and encourage policy makers and professionals to take development initiatives with a broad vision and result oriented mission.

It would also help us to ensure that the small and medium enterprises are facilitated though evidence based policies, he added.

Mr Sher Ayub asserted that SMEDA, as part of Ministry of Industries & Production, Government of Pakistan had played an important role in facilitating economic growth through promotion of the SME sector by introducing SME Policy formulation, sector development strategies, firm level assistance to SMEs, useful feasibility studies and potential district profiles for cluster development.

He also thanked the organizing and co-organizing teams of the conference and also acknowledged participation of international organizations from China, Japan, South Korea, Ireland and Bulgaria.

This is notable that the inaugural session was followed by the three working sessions having a schedule of three further sessions tomorrow (Wednesday) from 9-30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. bearing about 12 Research Papers in total.