SMALL AND medium-sized enterprises are one of key sectors driving the economy and underpinning the government’s “Thailand 4.0” initiative, but there are challenges ahead that need to be overcome so that they can be sustainable.
Nattapol Praditphonlert, executive director of the SME Provincial Champions project initiated by the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (OSMEP), said one of the most important characteristics of Thai SMEs was their commitment, as they have been in business for a long time. “However, with capital or technology constraints, some SMEs cannot adapt to the current environment or market, resulting in limited expansion and business development,” he said.
The obstacles to advancement by Thai SMEs are limited access to capital, technology, and ways to manage business in the new era, such as digital marketing.
“Furthermore, most Thai SMEs are under-utilising government-sponsored tools [funding, advice, loans and training] to help enhance their business.
“Their business communications or pitching skills are very limited, resulting in slow or almost no growth from the lack of funds,” he said.
The government is committed to helping advance or upgrade the development of all major industries, Nattapol said. Therefore, SMEs are key enabling elements to help support the upgrade to Thailand 4.0, which have to be in line with current economic dynamics.
The government is committed to supporting SMEs by providing new ideas and facilities, such as access to funding resources, to create business opportunities with e-commerce, he said.
However, government support is mainly focused on building business competency in the long term, not short term, as many projects aim to improve SMEs’ knowledge and efficiency.
The OSMEP is committed to supporting the development of SMEs in all dimensions, especially in basic knowledge, so that they can build their own strengths, he said.
The SME Provincial Champions project was launched by OSMEP to help SMEs improve their business plans through Thailand’s leading consultants, and to develop prototypes and packaging to meet the needs of the market.
The project started on May 1 and will run to September 30.
About 231 SMEs are targeted to participate in the project, divided into three major types – start-ups, rising stars and turnarounds – so that they will be facilitated at each stage of development, he said.