Warda Hassan Ahmed FCCA is a finance professional

Implementing the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) creates value for SMEs and their stakeholders, and brings numerous growth opportunities. But achieving sustainability comes with challenges.

As highlighted in ACCA’s global survey Covid-19: The road to recovery?, the pandemic has brought cashflow problems for SMEs, diverting funds and attention away from the SDG agenda and their plans to invest, innovate and reskill.

But this is where the finance professional can help.

To the rescue

Finance professionals can support the SDG agendas of their small-business clients by:

  • helping SMEs to find appropriate ways of sourcing finance and to make a recovery plan
  • assisting SMEs with areas that could be managed sustainably, developing strategies, rethinking the business model and creating business cases
  • measuring the client’s progress towards achieving the SDGs
  • assessing the potential for reskilling through initiating and/or improving training programmes.

At a more holistic level, finance professionals can bring rigour and integrity to this process by:

  • upholding the code of ethics and fundamental principles, which also helps build trust and confidence in their advice
  • helping SMEs see the significance and value of SDGs to the business
  • advocating culture change in terms of sustainability, accountability and responsibility to society and the environment, helping senior management to align to these priorities in a top-down approach.

In the words of the UN secretary-general: ‘We have a decade, and we can get there together.’ Professional advisers must play their part in getting small businesses to the sustainability destination.