IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON SMEs IN CHINA, CROATIA, NORTH MACEDONIA AND SLOVENIA

In October 2021, with the support of the GPC, a consortium composed of four organizations: CEPOR – SMEs & Entrepreneurship Policy Centre from Croatia, The Centre for Polish and Central and Eastern European Studies, School of International Studies, Sichuan University from China, International Cooperation Centre – National Development and Reform Commission from China and ESTIMA – Association for Strategy Creation, Research, Education and Promotion of International Values from North Macedonia, started the implementation of the project “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on SMEs in China, Croatia, North Macedonia and Slovenia – recommendations for improvement of policy measures”.

The aim of the research project was to provide a deeper insight into the impact of the pandemic on the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in the four observed countries of focus (China, Croatia, North Macedonia and Slovenia), to provide an overview and critical review of the measures taken by governments to support the sustainability of small and medium enterprises during the pandemic, and point to examples of good practice in entrepreneurial responses to recognized pandemic opportunities leading to into innovative products, services, processes or business models. The conducted research generated conclusions and recommendations based on good practice in supporting the small and medium enterprise sector in times of crisis.

The research conducted within the project included primary and secondary sources of information. Primary sources in the form of interviews with entrepreneurs were used to present examples of good practice related to innovative products, services, processes or business models created as a result of the perceived opportunity during the crisis, in the form of case studies. Through discussion, the concluding part of the study compares the impact of the crisis on the SME sector in the four observed countries, identifies positive aspects of government measures to support the SME sector during the crisis, and identifies recommendations in the form of lessons learned that can be useful to policy makers in situations where support for the sustainability of the sector is necessary due to the impact of external adverse conditions.

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