Fifteen nations and international organizations represented in SME policy discussion 

MEDELLIN – Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)  and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet, kicked-off the second annual Global Small & Medium Enterprises (SME) Ministerial during the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Medellín, Colombia today. Fifteen nations and several international bodies were represented at the ministerial featuring agency leaders and other senior officials responsible for small business and entrepreneurship policy. This year’s dialogue was focused on four key pillars: creating jobs, building international collaboration, facilitating trade, and promoting gender equity.

“We all understand the important role of entrepreneurship in creating the dynamic social fabric of our societies,” said Contreras-Sweet. “Entrepreneurship is a fundamental economic strategy. But it’s also a core security strategy, giving people alternatives to crime and extremism so they can imagine a better future. If you can’t get a job, entrepreneurship allows you to create your own. And small businesses not only create most of the jobs in our global economy, they also create a sense of pride in local neighborhoods and contribute tax revenues that can help fund better services and better schools.”

Ahead of the ministerial in Medellín, Contreras-Sweet was in Bogota to announce that the Colombian government will adopt the SBA’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) model, which in the U.S. is comprised of 1,100 federally funded counseling centers staffed with experts providing ongoing business and technical support for aspiring entrepreneurs. Colombia will be adding its 117 National Service for Apprenticeship and Learning (SENA) centers to the Small Business Network of the Americas.

“This network provides personalized assistance to entrepreneurs to help start and grow a business,” said Contreras-Sweet. “Already, 20 countries across Latin America have joined this network. Hundreds of business education centers have opened across Latin America since 2013.  Last year alone, these centers served nearly 20,000 businesses. By partnering to expand entrepreneurship across Colombia, our governments will provide opportunities for women, young people, and rural Colombians to create jobs and forge a lasting peace.”

The countries and international organizations participating include: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Estonia, European Commission, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mexico, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and the World Bank.

You can read the remarks delivered by Contreras-Sweet HERE.


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012 has served as a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

By Zen Chi

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