Note: 25 March 2013 – Gary Gray is now the new Minister for Small Business replacing Chris Bowen who has since resigned from this role.
Article by Caroline Hong, which appeared in the March 2013 issue of the My Business magazine and also on MSME news network.
Will a Minister for SMEs please stand up
“REGARDLESS OF YOUR CULTURAL BELIEFS, THERE IS A FEELING OF GENERAL OPTIMISM ABOUT 2013.”
As I write this column, Australian PM Julia Gillard has just announced that the election will happen on 14 September. And we have just heard that there is another change in the Small Business Minister portfolio, with Chris Bowen taking over from Brendon O’Connor.
Since the launch of the SME Association of Australia on 6 October 2011, we have had to engage with several changes in Federal Ministers for Small Business – Nick Sherry (until December 2011), Mark Arbib (until March 2012), Brendon O’Connor (until Feb 2013) and now Bowen. That’s a lot of Ministers in a short time.
It’s also quite surprising that many SMEs don’t even know there is a Minister for Small Business. For them, the change meant little to their business. For those who follow politics and government policies, it can be quite confusing for SMEs. There is still a tendency to assume a lot of things – for example, that all businesses that are potentially affected by government policy changes or new opportunities will all automatically be made aware of them.
Given that there are more than two million SMEs in Australia and that they make up 99.7% of the total business,I think we can do better than what is happening to reach out to SMEs. It is a push and pull effort. SMEs need more help and support, and we can achieve a lot more by leveraging and utilising membership-based business organisations to act as the other voice or messenger to communicate to business members.
March 2013 marks the first quarter of the year, and we are already into the Asian Century, with more than a billion Chinese all over the world already advancing into the Year of the Snake. In the business world, some ancient Chinese wisdom believes that the Year of the Snake is a good year for business. And regardless of your cultural beliefs, there is a feeling of general optimism about 2013.
An anonymous Chinese proverb says, “A single conversation with a wise man is better than 10 years of study”. And there is a lot of truth in that, as I increasingly learn from having powerful conversations with many people from all walks of life. As an Asian Aussie, I still feel I have much to learn from our Asian neighbours, even though many of them often say with humility that they have much to learn from the Asians living in Australia.
I recently attended the 2012 Wold SME Expo in Hong Kong and the 2013 Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Both Hong Kong and China place a strong emphasis on the SME sector, recognising them as the cradle for future wealth. Their SME associations are active and well supported by government and industry. Malaysia celebrates a World SME Day on the first Wednesday of July every year, as a way to recognise the contribution of SMEs to the economy of the country. They also have a SME Corporation within their government sector.
With the reshuffle of Small Business Ministers, I ask again, why doesn’t Australia have a Minister for SMEs? It has taken a lot of courage and hard work to get the SME Association in Australia started. As our young association matures, we’re pleased that more and more international, national and local businesses and government departments are becoming aware of our existence and relevance.
While some business owners report uncertainty about their future, many are seizing opportunities with an interest for greater engagement with Asia. The SMEAA wants to support SMEs to connect and succeed in commercial opportunities in Asia. As well as the Free Trade Agreements and Asian Century engagement, there is also growing interest from overseas investors in Aussie businesses.
If your business is ready to for an overseas investor, there might be someone out there seeking to invest in your business via the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) scheme.
Currently there are more than 1.02 million High Net Worth (HNW) individuals in China and that number is anticipated to rise to two million HNW by 2015. A recent study suggests that 44 per cent of HNW Chinese are seeking to emigrate overseas, citing the top two destinations as Canada and Australia. The majority of the HNW Chinese are in Beijing, Guandong and Shanghai, and many desire to send their children abroad for their education.
We are gathering a list of SIV-ready SMEs so that we can direct enquiries to your business when the floodgates expand for the increasing number of HNW individuals seeking investment via the SIV scheme. If you’re an SMEAA member and ready for an investor, register your expressions of interest by emailing email@example.com .
With acknowledgement and thanks to MyBusiness http://mybusiness.com.au You can also subscribe for the digital edition on http://mybusiness.realviewdigital.com/
My Business is the official publication of the SME Association of Australia http://www.smeaustralia.asn.au
Contact Caroline Hong: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Caroline Hong, CEO of SMEAA: email@example.com
Phone: +61 410474898