THE Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has urged policy makers to help the Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) to adopt sustainable business practices.
ACCA said there was need to sssist SMEs to also become enviromentally-friendly because their huge impact is currently being overlooked.
Zambia's member of ACCA's Global Forum for SMEs Sylvia Banda said, it was important for policy makers and regulators to start taking steps to tackle waste, promote efficiency among the small businesses and ensure that sustainability was at the forefront of their thinking.
In its new policy paper; " Embedding Sustainability in SMEs", ACCA's global forum for SMEs called on the policy makers, regulators and finance professionals to take action to help smaller businesses to enable them become more efficient and environmentally-friendly.
The report said a series of SME specific measures and approaches would need to be adopted, if these efforts were to gain any significant momentum with policy makers taking into account not only the differences between large companies and SMEs, but also the differences between micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
"As many small businesses are run by owner-managers with no shareholders or boards to answer to, they have more freedom to implement sustainability practices or to ignore them.
This is why it is important that governments and business-support professionals ensure that SMEs are aware of the quick gains they can make through increased efficiency and of the grants, financial assistance and incentives that may be available for those which commit to cutting emissions or which reduce waste," the report said.
Further, the report said accountants should work with local environmental sustainability experts in order to gain local access to credible knowledge to review the environmental sustainability of their own business, then use that valuable experience to have rounded, relevant conversations based on genuine experience with their clients.
The report urged accountancy bodies to become more proactive in the SMEs sustainability debate, providing members with the right tools and resources to help them develop in this direction.
This includes conditions that are set so that only businesses with sustainable practices have access to large and potentially lucrative public sector supply chains.
While small business owners need to become more proactive and strategic when it comes to adopting sustainable business practices, regulators also need to ensure that they 'think small first' when it comes to developing regulations which are aimed at encouraging practices, such as sustainability reporting.
And Ms Banda said: "All too often, small businesses are overlooked when it comes to environmental and sustainability issues."