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Small Businesses, Big Standards: How IFRSs Propel SMEs.

Small businesses, big Standards: How IFRSs propel SMEs.

Managing a business in today’s dynamic environment is no easy feat. Apart from the intrinsic granularity in functions and management, entrepreneurs must navigate a myriad of regulatory requirements and the day-to-day operations that can be demanding. Furthermore, the ever-shifting landscape of regulations (including tax and reporting) also calls for constant adaptation.

What entity qualifies as a Small and Mediumsized Enterprise (SME)?

Small enterprises are those that employ between 5-49 people, having total assets between 10-100M (UGX). Medium enterprises employ 50-100 people, with total assets between 100-360M (UGX).

In Uganda, SMEs play a significant role in the economy, accounting for 80% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 90% of the private sector.

SMEs and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises are encouraged to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards, specifically, IFRS for SMEs which provides an accounting framework designed to meet the entity’s needs as well as those of the users of financial statements.

The IFRS for SMEs was designed for entities that do not have public accountability and the requirement to publish general-purpose financial statements for external users. Issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) in 2009 and amended in 2023, IFRS for SMEs offers a simpler alternative to full IFRS. The framework allows entities to present high-quality, understandable financial statements and reports using a globally recognised standard, fostering transparency and trust for SMEs aspiring to bolster and reach global markets

What is in it to gain for SMEs applying the IFRS?

Simplification: IFRS for SMEs is tailored to the needs of smaller businesses, with significant simplifications in recognition, measurement, derecognition, and disclosures.

Accessibility: As all the standards are in one document, it is easy to obtain the required information.

Gateway to finance – Besides business owners, other important users of accounting information are banks. Many SMEs are financed by banks. SMEs must, therefore, ensure that financial statements generated by the entity are reliable for such critical stakeholders. This is only possible by SMEs ensuring compliance with financial reporting standards. Additionally, adopting IFRSs enhances SMEs’ opportunities for access to international finance through harmonised and high-quality financial information.

Positioning: With internationally reliable financial reports, SMEs can position themselves not only to seize emerging opportunities, for example in the oil and gas sector, but also to tap into global markets. With global recognition, SMEs can explore cross-border partnerships, which are a catalyst for growth through accessing larger markets.

What should SMEs do to comply with International Financial Reporting Standards?

Hire talent – One critical aspect of running a successful SME is hiring the right people and retaining them. Highly talented individuals drive the business toward growth and profitability. SMEs should hire the right

talent in all aspects of the business, starting with the front desk to top management. When it comes to the accounting function, SMEs should hire staff that are qualified and conversant with the financial reporting standards, to advise and support management/directors in compliance and decision-making. ‘Weak companies hire the right experience to do the job. Strong companies hire the right person to join their team’. Simon Simek.

Maintain a good governance structure.

SMEs must maintain robust structures that increase operational effectiveness and reduce overall risk in businesses. The most common SME governance challenges revolve around strategic oversight, decision-making, inability to establish standardized internal control mechanisms and policies, as well as staff recruitment and retention. Without qualified accountants to manage compliance with international standards, the gains highlighted above cannot be achieved by SMEs. By prioritizing good governance, SMEs can build trust among various stakeholders including employees, customers, suppliers, and investors among others, and ensure the long-term sustainability of the business.

Embrace technology.

Beyond the demands of regulations and reporting, SMEs must actively embrace technological advancements and evolving trends that transform businesses to “ride the wave” of change and flourish in today’s dynamic environment. SMEs should create an environment conducive for embracing technological advancements, guiding their entities through challenges while remaining astute in business practices.

These advancements are a game-changer for SMEs. There’s a wealth of affordable accounting software and cloud-based solutions that simplify everything from record-keeping to reporting and free up valuable time and resources, enhancing data-driven decisions that provide accurate information. Examples are cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks Online.

Training and motivation

Managing an SME would be in vain without supporting the biggest resource that holds this investment together – human resources.

SMEs should continuously train their staff to improve their skills and knowledge, and boost confidence in performing their jobs. The capacity-building efforts equip employees with updated skills, abilities, and knowledge, enabling them to perform tasks more efficiently and align their efforts with broader entity goals. Training and development are ways to attract and retain staff. With regular updates in International Financial Reporting Standards, SMEs must ensure that their staff are kept up-to-date.

SMEs also need to motivate their staff through recognition and rewards. Entities need to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work and achievements of employees through various forms such as verbal praise, awards, bonuses, promotions, and celebrating milestones, among others, to boost morale and motivation. An SME’s strength is manifested in the performance of the human resource. ‘Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will’ (Mahatma Gandhi).

Embrace business ethics.

Business ethics plays a vital role in a company’s long-term success. Ethics promote integrity among employees and ensure trust from key stakeholders, such as investors, financiers, and consumers among others. Good ethics will earn SMEs a positive reputation, brand loyalty, and growth.

Potential Risks for Non-compliance with Standards.

SMEs should note that failure to implement the Standards could lead to the financial statements of the entity being non-compliant with the IFRSs. This could result in associates risks and non-conformity with the requirements of regulators like the Bank of Uganda, Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority, and the Insurance Regulatory Authority which prescribe the application of IFRS for entities under their supervision.

SMEs are implored to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards to reduce compliance costs; make financial statements less complex and more user-friendly; and improve access to funding to bolster growth.

 

 

By Dativa Nabimanya

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