How will the SDGs impact SMEs?

How will the SDGs impact SMEs - coffee shop

Global warming is one of the greatest challenges we will ever face, and businesses globally are taking action with robust business sustainability strategies. SMEs are a major presence within our society, yet the impact they could have is so often overlooked. 

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched in 2015 and act as a shared framework for managing sustainable development on a worldwide scale. SMEs make up over 90 percent of businesses globally.

With this in mind, they have an essential role to play in advancing the 17 SDGs. So how will the SDGs impact SMEs? Continue reading as we explore how the SDGs and SMEs are interconnected and the importance of the UN Goals for your business.

How the SDGs affect business and the planet

The SDGs were established to protect the Earth from environmental, economic, and social issues that are affecting our world and having a global impact on businesses. Many small and medium enterprises may wonder how the SDGs could be relevant to their operations. 

They are at a stage of growth where revenue generation and profitability are top priorities, so focusing on sustainability may appear to be off course. So what exactly is the correlation between SMEs and the UN SDGs? Despite what you may believe, the two are interrelated. Here’s how the SDGs impact business.

Attracting and retaining a young and talented workforce

Young people care about sustainability and want to work for businesses that also care and prioritise their beliefs. Therefore, if you want to attract and retain a young and talented workforce, you must implement the SDGs. The youth wants to know how you are embedding social responsibility into your operations and whether you are serious about climate action. 

Acting on sustainability also gives you a competitive advantage as an employer. Candidates will be more eager to join because addressing environmental issues creates a positive image of your business. It ultimately helps you gain the trust of your stakeholders, employees, and of course, customers. 

Adapting to the modern world 

The strategy of business is transforming regularly as customer attitudes and behaviours change. People look for exciting businesses that are innovating and working to secure a sustainable and safe planet. 

Many enterprises are adapting SDGs in their business strategies to cater to their customers and clients. This encourages SMEs to follow suit in creating new kinds of solutions for business needs and more eco-friendly products. Moreover, becoming a more sustainable organisation could result in more economic opportunities. 

Creating job opportunities for marginalised sectors of society

Another way the SDGs impact SMEs is in job creation. SMEs can help immensely in creating job opportunities for marginalised sectors of society, namely, youth and women. By doing this, they help to reduce hunger and poverty by giving better health and education prospects for team members. 

These are some of the main goals of sustainable development. Working to reach talent in underserved demographics can make your brand more attractive to young investors. In addition, it can offer a strong brand identity. 

SMEs and the SDGs have a shared common goal

Ultimately, SMEs and large businesses can create shared value for stakeholders and be driven by a commonly shared vision of success by incorporating the SDGs. When businesses work collectively to bring about a better world and focus on value creation, their businesses thrive. 

The SDGs can help businesses to determine their brand, identity, and purpose and avail of opportunities to improve business growth. They do this all the while enabling SMEs and businesses to address climate change. 


SMEs that are working towards many or one SDG may find it challenging to navigate. They may feel their performance is affected short term; however, because of the stage they are in, the SDGs can help them be more flexible and opportunistic. 

Implementing the SDGs is all about reviewing your operations as a whole and seeing where you can make positive changes that tackle climate change and help the planet thrive. Ultimately, the SDGs are key to the growth and success and sustainability of a business. 

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