Conference on small businesses kicks off

Ruby Ying, The China Post

The 46th annual world conference of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) kicked off yesterday at the Taipei International Convention Center with President Chen Shui-bian, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung, Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Hung-mao, and Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Hsin-i being the guests of honor. “Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which comprise Taiwan’s economic backbone, have lent to the island a healthier economic system than other Asian countries in the past decade,” remarked president Chen Shui-bian during the opening ceremony.

“That is why Taiwan could weather the Asian financial crisis while in South Korea, where the national economy has been controlled by a few chaebols, was among the hardest hit,” Chen added. To ensure that Taiwan SMEs will maintain their momentum in the new economy, Chen promised that the government will strive to enhance the island’s investment environment by continuing to liberalize the domestic market, boosting domestic consumption, and creating job opportunities. Organized by the ICSB-ROC Affiliate and the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises of the ROC (NASME), the 46th ICSB world conference uses “SMEs in A Traditional-and-New-Mixed Era” as its theme.

The three-day conference features more than 600 participants, who are mostly SME entrepreneurs, SME financiers, SME supporters and SME policy makers from 55 countries in the world, including mainland China. Established in 1955 and headquartered in St. Louis, the U.S., ICSB is one of the few international organizations that the country has a membership in the name of the ROC. The ICSB-ROC Affiliate was formed in 1999 by the NASME. It is the first time the ICSB world conference has been held in Taipei, showing that the international community has recognized the important role that the island’s SMEs have played in the global economy.

“Taiwan’s SMEs have learned to adopt flexible strategies in the midst of economic turmoil. This makes Taiwan more adaptable to global changes and more globally competitive,” said Chen. The conference agenda includes four plenary sessions, 24 concurrent sessions, four workshops, and post-conference tours. Discussion sessions during the conference are dedicated to the changes and challenges that the world’s SMEs are facing in the new era. During the conference, an SME Incubator Exhibition is to be held to demonstrate the originality of incubators and their ready-to-commercialize products. The Incubator Exhibition is composed of 22 companies. ICSB is the first international small business organization. It is committed to the free exchange of ideas, experience, and programs through education, research, publications, management development programs and conferences among its members and others for a better understanding of the role and importance of small and medium sized businesses world-wide.