MSMEs making necessary yet challenging transformation

To commemorate the MSMEs Day of June 27, we dug a bit into the preparedness of select MSMEs for a green future, and while the responses were commendable, there leaves so much more to be done. 

It is perhaps pertinent to note that MSMEs represent 90% of businesses, contribute more than 50% of employment and drive up to 70% of global GDP, hence, safe to say that they are the strongest drivers of global economic development.

In 2021, Statista reported that there were estimated to be approximately 22.6 million small and medium-sized enterprises in the European Union contributing an average value of 56 percent to the economy. As one of the biggest economies in Europe, 82 percent of Germany’s added value comes from SMEs, while 93.1 percent of Malta’s as one of the smaller economies, comes from SMEs.  

But despite wielding such significant power to the global economy, a large number of MSMEs continue to approach sustainability as a simple compliance issue resulting from increasing pressure from multiple stakeholders, rather than as a vector of innovation and growth. 

To address the challenges around the integration of explicit strategies centred on environmental and social sustainability, we elicited responses from some MSMEs whom we know to have gained reputational benefits as champions of sustainable strategies. These businesses have, through their practices, models and technological innovations, positioned as future ready.

We asked their two cents on: 

– How MSMEs in their business environment are reacting to the subject of sustainability

– The biggest challenge(s) that MSMEs in Africa might encounter on their way to shifting their practices to address the mounting pressure for a carbon neutral earth

– How their business is helping to reduce the effect of climate change in their host community 

Of the responses we got, we documented two:

Curtis Phillip, Managing Director of Solartonic
with offices in the U.S. and U.K.

We believe well over half of MSMEs in our business environment are taking the issue of sustainability more seriously, especially in the past 2 years. However, the majority believe the government is not doing enough to encourage businesses to adopt greener policies.

For Africa, the challenge we have encountered is the lack of government awareness or encouragement to adopt greener policies. Affordability plays an important role and that can become a barrier to adoption. Incentives are thin on the ground. Africa has an abundance of renewable sources, but little incentives for MSMEs to exploit them.

We have adopted several approaches to reducing the effects of climate change, by adopting green energy tariffs, encouraging the community to adopt solar PV and battery storage, replacing old infrastructure with new sustainable solutions, transitioning to electric vehicles and educating on the benefits of going green.

Of course, we design and manufacture our own renewable infrastructure products to reduce the effects of climate change. Some of our products.

Matthew Spiteri, Managing Director of Altern
Limited with offices in Paola and Mosta, Malta.

The problems that we set out to tackle upon our inception in 2008 are energy related hence our mission to provide simple and effective sustainable solutions that are both financially and environmentally feasible.

The belief that we’ve held onto over the years, is that we can help reduce carbon emission because we trust in the power of the sun. That is why we’ve relentlessly worked on our expertise in unearthing a range of sustainable technologies like water management systems, solar panels, heat pumps, energy storage, LED lighting and electromobility amongst others.

And by offering value-added services in energy auditing, energy management, building energy etc., we have remained at the curve of sustainable solutions while taking advantage of the current environmental momentum to disseminate information in relations to environmental sustainability. 

No doubt, there are miles to walk on this journey to a green future, and while some seem ready and capable of walking the talk on their own, many will need to be carried along, because studies (as published on IDBinvest) show that investing and enabling micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to fulfill their development potential can have significant contributions to 60% of the SDGs.

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