During Global Entrepreneurship Week, Paraguay's Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MIC), through its Vice Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), hosted the second Forum of the National System of MSMEs.

Mandated by MSME Law 4457/12, the Vice Ministry designed the Forum in such way that it could help advance harmonized policy work among the various set of bodies involved in the creation, formalization, development and competitiveness of MSMEs, which comprise an estimated 90% of the national business fabric.

The first day (Nov. 21) focused on the government's policies in terms of incentives for the formalization and competitiveness of businesses. On this front, several international organizations are actively supporting the national entrepreneurship ecosystem by providing technical support and by co-financing new public programs that will be in place for the next five years, primarily the Inter-American Development Bank, the Technical Mission of Taiwan, and the European Union. 

Vice Minister for MSMEs Isaac Godoy, in reporting progress on the National Plan for MSMEs, highlighted the importance of the government's alliances with the private sector in implementing the various programs. “The progress that Paraguay has made over the past year in the implementation of public policies has been bolstered by ecosystem-wide articulation and coordination with public and private institutions" he stated. 

The Vice Minister also said that in addition to the various programs, new public policy advances include the Tax Modernization Law, which creates a new regime that will facilitate the formalization of enterprises, by easing the tax compliance for the smallest companies in the country. This aspect will be regulated by the Ministry of Finance, and will be implemented in 2020, and as such, the Deputy Minister of Taxation attended the Forum to discuss this new framework.

In addition, the Deputy Minister of Labor reported on regulations that aim to facilitate the formalization of employment within MSMEs. At the same time, the Directorate of Statistics and Census offered a talk about the demographics of Paraguayan MSMEs. Other institutions which participated at the Forum and presented their support mechanisms to the entrepreneurs in the audience were: the Intellectual Property Directorate, the National Directorate of Public Procurement, and the Directorate of National Customs.

On the second day (Nov. 22), the Forum housed the first National Entrepreneur Summit, which focused on advances in the Paraguayan startup ecosystem, discussed succesful regional case studies, and included masterclasses on new business creation, in partnership with the Paraguayan Association of Entrepreneurs (ASEPY). 

Cristian Sosa, Executive Director of ASEPY, pointed out that the Entrepreneur Summit is a major milestone of collaborative and articulated work. “The Summit is the meeting point for the ecosystem, so that an entrepreneur knows everything that exists - the opportunities, tools, support mechanisms and laws that the public sector created with entrepreneurs in mind."

Both days offered a candid exchange of experiences and debate on opportunities to remove the roadblocks for entrepreneurs in the country. 

Just a year ago, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce appointed the first Director for Entrepreneurs within the Vice Ministry of MSMEs, as mandated by the Entrepreneurial Culture Promotion Law 5669/16. The full implementation of this framework is underway, with the launch of an observatory of entrepreneurial dynamics, for example. 

Everything indicates that the next Forum promises to feature further progress in policy implementation for new and young businesses, as well as MSMEs more broadly. We will be documenting these via the Startup Nations Atlas of Policies (SNAP) in partnership with the Directorate for the Entrepreneurs (DINAEM). 

Cristina Fernández focuses on integrating policymakers into startup ecosystems across the world, creating platforms for them to exchange ideas… About the author