Small businesses always have a tough time competing against larger entities. They simply do not have the resources to put up with these giants. Fortunately, there are rules and regulations in place to ensure a leveled playing field for everyone. But what happens when these rules and regulations lose their value? When people with money join hands with the authorities and end up bypassing the rules, the playing field no longer remains equal for everyone. This problem has been felt by Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and we have the data to show for it.
Extensive research has been conducted on how bribery and corruption can affect SMEs. It is surprising that in most corruption related studies, SMEs are often overlooked. This is despite the fact that SMEs play a far greater role in the economy than large corporations. In 2019, a survey was conducted via web link about SMEs. The survey revealed that without SMEs, entire economies could collapse. Multinationals of all sizes depend heavily on SMEs in order to function. The survey also showed that in every country, a large majority of the employed workforce works for SMEs.
The survey also laid light on the concern of SMEs regarding bribery. Around 64% of SMEs think of bribery and corruption as a huge concern. If we compare this figure with data from previous years, we can see that there is a notable increase in the level of concern. The survey also showed that areas such as Europe had a lower level of concern since they have tried and tested regulatory mechanisms in place.
Based on peoples’ responses, most businesses think of corruption and bribery as a disease. Their biggest concern is that if not kept under control, corruption can become a highly destructive force that can upset businesses and entire economies. The research also shed light on a rather concerning thing; most SMEs have to face corruption in the form of bribery when they are dealing with officials from the public sector. This leads to a lot of SMEs losing confidence whenever they have to interact with the authorities. For instance, SMEs are always afraid of bribery when they consider doing business in certain countries. These kinds of concerns affect their business decisions.
Research in 2019 has showed that the spread of corruption has only worsened as compared to in the past. People’s perception of what businesses are willing to do in order to bypass the law has worsened with time as well. Fortunately, along with an increase in corruption, awareness on the topic has been increasing as well. And thanks to this, there is still hope. 59% of SMEs believe that the problem can be mitigated with proper guidance from the authorities. If a framework of corrective action exists, instances of corruption can be pinpointed and addressed.
From the looks of things, the only way to bring corruption under control is if the authorities take an active part in bringing order and educate people on how to deal with parties in situations where corruption may be taking place.