GRI Supports Sustainable Efforts Among SMEs

Partnerships lead to transparency for small and medium-sized enterprises
Nov 30, 2020 8:00 AM ET

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) form the majority of businesses globally, and as such play a crucial role in creating a more sustainable economy, environment and society. And as we approach Small Business Saturday (28 November), it is highly relevant to reflect on their contribution and importance.

With backing from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), GRI has over a number of years been supporting SMEs around the world in their sustainability journey.

Global action

Through the Competitive Business Program, GRI is enabling better integration of SMEs into global value chains by developing their capacity for sustainability reporting. SMEs in selected countries are building up a network and receiving training in sustainability reporting. For example, in Peru, more than 800 organizations have joined local GRI workshops and events, and the network keeps growing. In South Africa, meanwhile, 107 SMEs received training on the use of the GRI Standards.

A supportive environment

We realize that SMEs also need a regulatory framework that supports sustainability, so through the program we also work with governments and investors so they can promote transparency around sustainability when it comes to SMEs.

In Colombia, a GRI-led initiative resulted in a Declaration in favor of responsible investment, which includes respect for human rights and alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. There was also collaboration with the Colombia Stock Exchange to issue companies with guidance for sustainability reporting.

Visible results

The GRI Standards are applicable to organizations of all sizes and are a great way for companies to show their commitment to sustainability. They also allow companies to take a look at their processes and procedures and understand where their impacts lie and how to best make use of the information to further their business, gain and improve access throughout their supply chain and to investors. For SMEs they are a valuable opportunity to look at the impact they have on their immediate environment, and act accordingly.

Hear some companies from South Africa and Colombia tell their stories, and share their successes.