On 5 July, the British Chamber of Commerce presented its first ever SME-focused seminar, aiming to provide expert advice and access to investors for SMEs to grow. This comes at a time when people and governments are beginning to realise the importance of smaller companies. Chamber President Emilio Díaz gave the opening remarks, recognizing a need for leadership, but also affirming that the UK remains an attractive destination for Mexican exporters despite BREXIT.
The first panel focused on financing opportunities for SMEs and the development of new products via financial entities for these companies. Firstly, we learnt about SOFOMs (Multi-Purpose Financial Institutions) who are dedicated to providing credit to new enterprises during the earlier stages of their business lifecycle. We were given a useful insight into some of the myths and realities surrounding these businesses. Furthermore, a representative from HSBC shed light on banking in Mexico, and the impact of the financial reform, ending with some practical tips to SMEs wishing to secure bank loans. Finally, the promotion of IPO was highlighted as a method of financing, and the panel came to a close with a question and answer session.
Benefits of institutionalising SMEs through processes and procedures was the topic of the second panel. For a company than can last and work for itself, there need to be processes delegated to different members of a capable team to ensure the company is not dependent on one person – companies need to be established as carefully as possible in order to protect all partners. Formalisation also makes it easier for companies to secure credit as it forces them to maintain clear financial reports and establish clear investment policies, ultimately to avoid fines and sanctions from government tax authorities. Key guidance was offered on the institutionalisation of business operations, and the question and answer section covered some interesting issues such as the involvement of the Mexican tax office and the Mexican legal system in SMEs.
The final panel addressed the matter of risk management for SMEs. Poor administration can be enough to bankrupt an SME while the contrary can aid companies to be more successful and help them survive future generations. Defining risks and seeking guidance can minimise the impact of potential risks. Concerning purchasing, further advice was shared in reducing risk, detailing the establishment of strategies to seek out the most competitive pricing. In one panelist’s opinion, all businesses’ risks can be split into two categories: human factors and the handling of information, however ultimately the main difference between SMEs and bigger businesses is their ability to deal with these conflicts.
The day was rounded up with an engaging speech by Jesus Bush, reflecting on the importance of the existence and endurance of SMEs, especially in Mexico. Mexico has a great potential with its unique location and biodiversity, but faces challenges from corruption, impunity, and organized crime. Unemployment is a huge issue among youth, including those who are educated. It is vital to generate potential business opportunities from the bottom of the social pyramid, which is the most unattended, yet with the most potential for profitability. Bush encouraged mentoring networks, the promotion of problem solving, and most importantly the power of an entrepreneurial spirit, empowerment and increased efficiency to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture for today and for generations to come.
As the first of its kind, the seminar was a success, providing some invaluable tips and information for the attendees. The Chamber would like to thank the SME and Finance Groups who made the event possible, and hope to see both new and familiar faces at the next event.
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