According to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) SMEs account for about 90 per cent of business worldwide, employing 50 to 60 per cent of the world’s workforce. In Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicate small businesses in Australia comprise up to 89 per cent of all employing enterprises, with medium businesses making up another 10 per cent.
The SME sector is not only huge but also extremely diverse – with 60% of all of these businesses not having any employees – this diversity creates challenges on many levels and areas including responsible business practices, corporate sustainability and philanthropy.
Corporate sustainability and social responsibility activities have largely focussed on multi-national companies. With issues like supply chain management firmly planted on corporate Australia’s agenda the question of how to drive this type of change through the supply chain is receiving more and more attention and opportunity to engage with the ME section of this very important sector are most welcome.
First 5000, a business alliance that aims to give a voice to the top performing medium sized businesses in Australia (ME’s) - businesses that employ 20 -199 people and report an annual turnover of $10 million or more is a breath of fresh air and promises to bring about change by segmenting an important part of the SME sector and giving it a voice. Future members of First 5000 are responsible for a combined annual revenue of $2845 billion and employ more than half a million people.
This is a significant sector in anybody’s terms, economically, socially and environmentally and shouldn’t be overlooked in the creation of innovative solutions to corporate sustainability challenges.
It is by its very nature a very fast moving sector and the establishment of First 5000 – a brainchild of Peter Fritz AM, founder of the public policy network Global Access Partnerships (GAP) – is a welcome development, not only giving this sector a voice but also providing all important access to this independent business development alliance. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.