Republic Of Zambia

United Nations Development Programme Zambia

Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Empretec UNCTAD


EmpretecIt is generally recognised that entrepreneurship is one of the key factors in the developmental process and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are the main engine of economic growth. The dynamism of SMEs, their adaptability, flexibility and innovative capacity has made them a cornerstone of on-going economic reforms in both developed and developing countries alike. SMEs contribute significantly to the economy in terms of output, employment, new job creation and innovation. In most countries, SMEs account for over half of the total share of GDP. With regard to their share in the number of registered companies, the figure is typically much higher - reaching 90 – 95 per cent in most countries. The importance of SMEs for large companies, as suppliers, subcontractors and sellers of their products, has been constantly increasing.

However, for SMEs to benefit more from globalisation there is a need to assist them in realising their trade and investment opportunities and becoming internationally competitive. The Sao Paulo Consensus mandated UNCTAD to design and implement active policies for building productive capacity and continuing its work on enterprise development.

What it is

One of the main programmes to foster entrepreneurship is UNCTAD's EMPRETEC Programme. The name EMPRETEC - the Spanish acronym for emprendedores (entrepreneurs) y tecnologia (technology) - was first introduced in Argentina in 1988 to describe a United Nations programme conceived to promote entrepreneurship in developing countries.

What it does

It is an integrated entrepreneurial capacity-building programme that provides entrepreneurship training and technical assistance to promote SME development by:

  • promoting entrepreneurship;
  • fostering individual entrepreneurial capabilities;
  • building institutional capacity at the country level; and
  • encouraging employment-creating investment and linkages both among SMEs as well as between large and small enterprises.

As a result, EMPRETEC helps to promote the growth of innovative and internationally competitive SMEs in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, thereby contributing to the development of a dynamic private sector and entrepreneurial culture. Furthermore, it also contributes to energising the private sector and to improving the business environment in the countries where it operates. Therefore, it is a vital complement to effective macroeconomic policies and enabling legal and regulatory framework.

How it is done

The Programme identifies existing and potential entrepreneurs, provides them with training aimed at strengthening their entrepreneurial behaviours and business skills, assists them in accessing business development services, facilitates access to financing, helps to arrange mutually beneficial links with larger national and foreign companies and puts in place long-term support systems to facilitate the growth and internationalisation of SMEs. The programme emphasises the building of active networking among public institutions, private business associations and multilateral organisations as well as between national EMPRETEC programmes and other programmes promoting SME development.

The following groups are the main beneficiaries of the EMPRETEC Programme:

  • Existing small, medium and micro enterprises that have a track record of good business performance
  • Potential entrepreneurs with promising business ideas and high growth potential
  • Start-up companies with good bankable project proposals
  • Key institutions (banks, loan guarantee funds, entrepreneur associations
  • Investment promotion agencies, SME support agencies)
  • Governments


The EMPRETEC Programme is different from other programmes in the sense that the EMPRETEC methodology used during the Entrepreneurship Training Workshop (ETW) is based on the concept of entrepreneurship from a psychological point of view and a behavioural approach to entrepreneurship.


Since its inception, EMPRETEC programmes have been initiated in 26 countries, assisting over 80,000 entrepreneurs (Empretecos) through local market-driven business support centres. EMPRETEC Centres are now operational in Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Jordan, Morocco, Panama, Romania, Uruguay, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. In addition, under the umbrella of the UNDP regional programme Enterprise Africa, EMPRETEC is also operational in Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. The EMPRETEC Programme has thus built a solid capacity in Latin and Central America, Anglophone and Francophone Africa, and has recently started to develop its projects in the Middle East and Central and Eastern Europe.

The Empretec Programme was first introduced in Zambia in 2008 under the Invitation of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry (MCTI). Since its introduction, close to 200 MSMEs have been trained in Empretec of which more than 80 were trained under the Zambia Green Jobs Programme.