High-Level Debate: Statement by Ambassador Berger on Entrepeneurship and Development

Jun 26, 2013

(Statement as delivered by Ambassador Berger in a High-Level Debate on "Entrepeneurship and Development")

"At the outset I would like to thank the President of the General Assembly for organizing this important debate. The overwhelming support that the entrepreneurship resolution received last fall showed that there is a clear need to promote entrepreneurship in the United Nations.

Young people pronounced an urgent call for favourable conditions for young and small enterprises last year (during the ECOSOC event on employment and productive capacities). They pointed rightly at the fact that the 73 mio. unemployed young people will most probably not be able to find a job in the near future in existing enterprises. And they do not want to wait, but to take their fate in their own hands and create enterprises themselves. We applaud their courage and ambition and stand ready to support them.

Entrepreneurship, the promotion of young, small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] as well as the preservation of good framework conditions are at the very heart of German economic policy. We are convinced that entrepreneurship and the promotion of entrepreneurship have significantly contributed to Gemany’s economic success and development. The effects of entrepreneurship on development are visible:

-         99.6% of German enterprises are SMEs – that are enterprises with less than 500 employees-. Most of these enterprises are so called “family enterprises”. Even some of the German well known brands are still family enterprises run by enterpreneurs who take over the full personal responsibility.

-         One German specialty are entrepreneurs who we call “hidden champions”. Estimates say that more than half of the all SMEs who are leaders in the world market in their field come from Germany. And these enterprises are the basis of Germany’s export success giving us resilience and income.

-         4 out of 5 apprentices (1.3 mio. in 2011) are trained in SMEs. These apprenticeships give us a highly qualified workforce and help us to disseminate technology in the entire economy.

-         German SMEs are among the most innovative enterprises in Euroe. More than sevent out of ten Euros that are invested in research and development come from SMEs and 54% of them produce a process- or product innovation every second year.

Why is this the case? Important factors are based on institutional structures that the enterprises created, policies that the government implements in their support and a social dialogue between employers, trade unions and the government:

-         availability of a highly qualified workforce,

-         a well organized system of Chambers of Commerce,

-         a regional network of locally anchored savings and cooperative banks,

-         tight relations between enterprises and universities,

-         anti-trust policy, procurement provisions that give SMEs a chance, bankruptcy legislation that gives entrepreneurs a second chance and a multitude of support programmes starting from school.

Let me finish by recalling a German expression that sometimes is forgotten: it is the “ehrlicher Kaufmann”, the “honest businessman”. It stands for entrepreneurs who are interested in long-term relationships, provide good products and services to their customers and be a valuable member of their community. Here at the United Nations we speak about “corporate social responsibility”. The United Nations Global Compact who promotes the values of the United Nations and helps enterprises to integrate them into their business policies. It has been understood now that CSR is not a charitable undertaking, but risk mitigation that makes perfect sense in business terms. Some of the 100 Local Networks of the Global Compact also promote the exchange of knowledge about business practices in general and therefore we would like to suggest that they should form the nexus of an exchange of knowledge for the promotion of entrepreneurship.

I thank you for your attention."

© GermanyUN

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