Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the first International Entrepreneurs Investment Forum, in Manama today:
I am pleased to greet the participants in this forum, and I welcome your focus on entrepreneurship and investment for inclusive and sustainable industrial development.
The economic and financial crisis of the past several years has been, above all, a global employment crisis. It has affected all countries and regions, and all segments of society, with especially negative consequences for the prospects of young people, as we have seen so vividly across the Middle East and North Africa region over the past few years.
It is increasingly being recognized that industrialization, if conducted in an inclusive and sustainable manner, can create jobs, generate income, increase productivity, transform economies and be a major driver of development. Reaping these and other benefits depends, first and foremost, on fostering a dynamic private sector. In particular, countries need to promote competitive small- and medium-sized enterprises, which are the main source of economic activities and the largest employer in many developing countries — and the main engines of empowerment for women and young people.
Promoting entrepreneurship and expanding access to financial services are among the central challenges developing countries face in growing a vibrant private sector. Your forum can foster exchanges of expertise and best practices, forge partnerships and identify investment opportunities. Your gathering is also very timely, taking place as United Nations Member States shape a post-2015 development agenda and a meaningful agreement on climate change.
As we move towards a new era of sustainable development, I will count on your leadership and support. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) will remain your partner in this important work. Please accept my best wishes for a successful forum.