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SMEs and Sustainability: Maersk’s Recipe for Growth

By - Jun 16 2016

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Some say that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can change the world. Recent numbers indicate that they employ 70 percent of the global workforce and represent 95 percent of all firms, and affirm their critical role in the emerging markets 310 million SMEs call home. Yet SMEs continue to lag behind larger firms in terms of both productivity and wages, and miss opportunities for inclusive growth as a result. To help SMEs play catch up and to capitalize on their potential as drivers of growth, Maersk Group’s intraAmericas shipping line SeaLand has teamed up with the Inter-American Development Bank around ConnectAmericas, a social media platform intended to help these small businesses go global. To learn more about these efforts and the motivations behind them, let’s hear from SeaLand CEO Craig Mygatt on how SMEs and sustainability factor into Maersk Group’s growth strategy.

IDB: Through our ConnectAmericas platform, the IDB seeks not only to support SMEs in Latin America and the Caribbean, but also to advance development more broadly. What role do SeaLand and the Maersk Group believe SMEs play in promoting economic growth?  

SeaLand: Small and Medium Sized enterprises (SMEs) only constitute a small fraction of global exports, yet they are key enablers of economic growth and development.

Enabling access to global markets and continuous trade expansion can help generate economic development, stimulate job creation, increase people’s income and raise living standards. According to the WTO, every dollar invested in improving trade conditions creates between 8 and 20 US dollars of exports which provides benefits to society and opportunities for development  – with the largest potential for improving market access, transport and logistics  conditions in low- and middle-income countries. Alleviating barriers to trade will allow more SMEs and economies to engage in global trade, creating business opportunities that will benefit societies, local companies, SeaLand and the Maersk Group as well.

 

IDB: Why does a conglomerate like the Maersk Group invest resources in sustainability projects such as ConnectAmericas? What’s in it for you?

SeaLand: Our aim is to contribute to long-term sustainable growth for both the societies in which we operate and for the Maersk Group itself. For example, by collaborating on eliminating barriers to trade, we are also creating a market of new exporters that will potentially need logistics services, hereby creating new potential customers.

Another gain of a sustainable approach is to mitigate and manage sustainability risks, and to strengthen the position of the company as a responsible and trusted business partner. Our efforts within climate change include being the most cost- and carbon- efficient container shipping operator in the industry. We are seeing that some customers are demanding such services in their value chain.

If you as a business provide that something extra, it also gives your staff something to be proud of: Staff who put in an extra effort every day because they are proud to work for the business offering a valuable contribution.

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