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Providing practical guidance on challenges facing SMEs

SME owner managers, policy makers, academics and ACCA members have gathered in Lahore for the launch of ACCA Pakistan's SME Survival Kit.

A short, concise document aimed at SME start-ups, the Survival Kit aims to provide practical guidance on the challenges facing SMEs, including access to finance, succession planning, and maintaining reliable and relevant accounting records.

The launch event at the Pearl Continental Hotel on 18 February brought together top management executives from Pakistan's banking and business community to debate these challenges, and highlighted how SMEs could seek professional advice, explore informal sources of finance and seek marketing opportunities outside Pakistan.

Welcoming the launch as another example of how the SME agenda lies at the heart of ACCA's activities, Dr Afra Sajjad, ACCA Pakistan head of education and policy development, said: 'The vital economic importance of SMEs, which invariably account for the great majority of businesses in both developed and developing economies, needs to be recognised by governments, other agencies and support bodies.

'Regulators need to "think small first" when developing business rules, rather than adapting rules intended originally to be used by multinationals operating in the world's capital markets. SMEs need "the complete accountant" in their organisations to add value to the financial health and sustainable development of the company: accountants versed in financial reporting, management accounting, broader strategic skills and ethics.'

Joining Dr Sajjad in the debate were Syed Salim Raza, governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Shahid Rashid, chief executive officer, SMEDA, Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry, president, Lahore Chamber of Commerce, Hassan Yasser, assistant general manager, SME department, Bank Alfalah Limited, and Hamid Ikram, chairman, ACCA Pakistan SME sub-committee.

Highlighting the huge importance of SMEs to Pakistan's economic growth, Chaudhry called on the government and private sector to make more efforts in supporting SMEs in realising their potential as the backbone to the national economy.

Yasser added that banks are making efforts to alleviate the challenge of access to finance, but that SMEs must play their part in understanding the importance of maintaining reliable accounting records and nurturing an effective working relationship with banks.