The world has seen significant disruption in supply chains over the past few years, but as countries rebound from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to consider how to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) looking for their place on the local and global stage. Governments understand that supporting SMEs means bolstering economies and societies, which has led to programs to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on these enterprises. As Saudi Arabia looks to diversify its sources of revenue and increase the contribution of SMEs and the industrial sector to the GDP, supporting emerging industrial enterprises in the country will be vital.
A concerted effort to guide industrial SMEs through their journey from setting up their industrial supply chains to finding their way onto the global market will help bring Saudi Arabia closer to its Vision 2030 goals for the industrial sector. The Kingdom can support SMEs and entrepreneurs to increase their participation the industrial economy and developing local supply chains by addressing the challenges that budding enterprises face in the country and by providing the means to conquer them. There is a role that the government, through the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources and other national and international agencies, such as UNIDO, can perform, which would provide SMEs with financial and non-financial support to boost their local presence and facilitate their ability to expand to international markets. There are multiple avenues of support for nascent industrial enterprises. Still, there is a need for a clear Kingdom-wide strategy for industrial SMEs to navigate the ecosystem of agencies and programs that can support them.
This paper describes the journey that SMEs undertake to set up industrial supply chains, the ecosystem of support that industrial SMEs navigate, and the challenges they face in the Saudi economy. It outlines global examples and benchmarks to identify disparate strategies adopted by other nations and distill them into concise recommendations, which could be applicable in the Kingdom when aiding industrial SMEs set up their supply chains.