Annual Meeting 2022

18th INSME Annual Meeting

“Empowering SMEs: Economic Diversification and Green Growth”

1-2 December 2022
Baku, Azerbaijan

    Co-organised with



The current international context cannot be more complex as we are witnessing generalized inflation, high interest rates, a recession around the corner, the growing damages produced by climate change from floods to drought, the Covid-19 pandemic that is transforming itself and has not yet disappeared, an enduring war in Europe that has ripple effects all over the world, particularly on energy and food prices and supply. The economic trend is clouded with business shutdowns, value chains disruptions, volatility in financial and trading markets which have a negative impact on SMEs, threatening the survival of many viable enterprises and entrepreneurs.

SMEs are a major component of the world economy, accounting for more than half of formal employment globally and contributing on average between 50% and 60% of national GDP in OECD countries, so if we want to recover and the green and digital transformation to succeed, then we have to commit every government in earnest for the full involvement of SMEs in this process and provide full support to facilitate and accelerate a structural change. Empowering SMEs and entrepreneurship is crucial to achieve more inclusive societies and growth.

The mission of INSME is not only to exchange best practice in the implementation of effective policies for
entrepreneurship and SME growth but also to improve the understanding of the drivers of SME productivity and growth and how policies can ensure that SMEs and entrepreneurship strengthen their contributions to quality job creation and inclusive growth. SMEs should also succeed in combining economic growth with environmental and social objectives, as well as contribute to address environmental challenges and social issues throughout social and green innovations.


The INSME Annual Conference aims to:

  • understand the role that innovation can play in promoting green growth
  • uncover the potential of SMEs and entrepreneurship in the face of global crises
  • reflect on how SMEs can cope with energy crises and how governments should intervene
  • network and engage with innovative and forward-looking people in these fields


KOBIA, the Small and Medium Business (SMB) Development Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan was established in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated December 28, 2017. As a legal entity under the Ministry of Economy, the Agency is authorized to support the development of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the country by providing them with a number of services and ensuring coordination and regulation of services rendered by government entities to SMBs. The Agency’s mission is to increase the efficiency of small and medium enterprise system regulation, ensure a variety of support mechanisms and entrepreneurs’ smooth access thereto, achieve sustainable SMBs sector development and its increased contribution to the national economy.


JW Absheron Marriott Hotel, 674 Azadliq Square, Baku 1000, Azerbaijan.


N.B. All times indicated in GMT+4, please check your time zone here.

Agenda and speakers are subject to change (*TBC)

1 December

9:00 – 10:00 Registration for INSME’s 18th Annual Meeting
Venue: JW Absheron Marriott Hotel, Sharg Ball Room

10:00 – 10:30 Opening ceremony

  • Sergio Arzeni, President, INSME
  • Orkhan Vidadi oglu Mammadov, Chairman of the Management Board, KOBIA, Azerbaijan
  • Markus Jerger*, CEO, BVMW, and Vice President, INSME, Berlin, Germany
  • Farhad Garashov, Chairman of the Public Council, KOBIA, Azerbaijan
  • Yves Leterme, President, ToJoy Western Europe and former PM Belgium

10:30 – 11:00 Coffee-break

11:00 – 12:45 1st Session: Sustainability and energy challenges for SMEs

What are the main obstacles to SMEs access to diversified and sufficient energy sources to fuel their productive activities? Moreover SMEs face numerous challenges towards their green transition: limited funding, regulatory/institutional constraints, priorities imbalance, low-awareness, lack of expertise and specialized personnel etc. To fully overcome barriers and unlock their potential, SMEs will need full support from the public and private sectors. The panel will discuss these issues by presenting research, projects and initiatives that shed lights on the opportunities to be grasped and the challenges to be addressed as SMEs are the most vulnerable victims of high energy prices.

Chair: Martin Godel, Chairman, OECD Committee on SME and Entrepreneurship, Director SME Policy, SECO, Ministry of Economy, Switzerland

Panel discussion with:

  • Martin Ruppert*, Director, IMP3rove, Germany
  • Boyko Takov, CEO Agency for SME Promotion, Bulgaria
  • Elena Aurora Candel*, Director for SME, Ministry of Economy, Romania
  • Speaker from Azerbaijani side*
  • Andrea Di Anselmo, CEO, META group, Belgium

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break

14:15 – 15:30 2nd Session: Building SMEs readiness to cope with current and future crisis

The main ongoing global “bundled” crises, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, are gravely affecting SMEs worldwide. What are the main factors of SME vulnerability to geopolitical and financial shocks, and what can be done to increase their resilience to future crises? While it is essential for SMEs and the wider economy to increase their future readiness, SMEs can thrive only with the necessary supporting infrastructure and regulatory frameworks. In this panel speakers will present potential strategies to ensure SME achieve not only economic survivability but also ensure their full development and exploitation of their potential.

Chair: Roberto Santolamazza, Managing Director, t2i, Italy

Panel discussion with:

  • Carlo De Simone, Institutional Relations, Simest, Italy
  • Speaker from Azerbaijani side*
  • Amin Nehme*, Director, Lebanese Development Network, Lebanon
  • Giuseppe Tripoli, Secretary General, Unioncamere, Italy

15:30 – 16:45 3rd Session: Promoting innovation for a green growth

Green growth means fostering economic growth while continuing to provide goods and services in an economically sustainable way. There is a global increasing concern about the future sustainability of economic growth, which requires careful analysis of the main factors at stake to develop strategies and plans that benefit all parties. With innovation being the key driver to advanced business ideas, cutting-edge technologies, and cross-cutting markets and jobs, SMEs are in a great position to push for green innovation. The panel will analyse the specific barriers and solutions to green innovation, notably the prevalence of dominant designs, technologies and systems in energy and transport markets.

Chair: Giovanni Zazzerini, Secretary General, INSME

Panel discussion with:

  • Hamsa Thota, Founder and President, IBD Inc., Georgia, USA
  • Ali Muqaibal*, CEO, Sharakah, Oman
  • Annalisa Guidotti*, Director, CONFAPI, Rome, Italy
  • Speaker from Azerbaijani side*
  • Baybars Altuntas, CEO, World Business Angels Investment Forum, Turkey

16:45 – 18:00 4th Session: Policy responses

This panel will provide insights in the key role that governments and policy makers can play to act on  economic diversification and green growth opportunities, thus shaping up a twin transition for SMEs.

Chair: Jay Mitra, Founder IEF, International Entrepreneurship Forum and Director Innovation and  Entrepreneurship, Essex University Business School, UK

Panel discussion with:

  • Patrick Meinhardt*, Board Member ESD and INSME, former Member of the German Parliament, Berlin, Germany
  • Hashim Hussein, Head of Investment and Technology Promotion Office, UNIDO, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • Speaker from Azerbaijani side*
  • Betty Alexandropoulou*, Executive Director, Enterprise Greece, Greece
  • Giovanni Da Pozzo*, President, Promos Italia, Italy

Closing remarks:

  • Sergio Arzeni, President, INSME
  • Representative of KOBIA

19:00-21:00 Gala Dinner


9:30 – 10:30 General Assembly (Members Only)

Members of the General Assembly are informed about ongoing and future activities, projects and achievements, including the INSME 2021 financial statements and the forecast for 2023. Delegates share updates about their projects and initiatives and new members introduce themselves.

10:30 – 12:00 Matchmaking

During the session, INSME members, SMEs representatives and innovation stakeholders (universities, research centers, public bodies, etc.) gather together in order to identify and pursue potential opportunities in a fruitful networking environment.

The matchmaking event will give participants the opportunity to join pre-arranged meetings with other participants in order to identify possible partnerships and to facilitate the set-up of new projects.

12:00 – 14:00 Tour of the Old City for all interested foreign guests