By Parminder Vir OBE

We’re delighted to announce the dates for the Beyond the Known (BTK2021) conference which will be held online on 26-27-28 October 2021. BTK2021 is being organized by 7 like-minded organizations: Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (Germany) (BMZ), the International Labour Organization, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), SwissContact, and Argidius Foundation. 

Please find information about the BTK2021conference on the website Participation in the event is free, please register here! Please note that registration is essential to access the online platform where the event will take place. 

We all know that MSMEs are the engine of most economies and account for most jobs worldwide, but they also tend to be among the most vulnerable economic actors, especially in the face of shocks or economic downturn. The economic effects of public health and lockdown measure disproportionally affected MSMEs in general and the informal enterprises in particular.  The year 2021, and recovery from COVID-19, will therefore be venturing into the unknown. Innovating business models for a new post-COVID-19, normal, and building resilience with a view to future crises will only be the starting point of this “Unknown”. The BTK2021 is an opportunity for the community of practitioners to share innovative solutions for entrepreneurship and MSME development.

To facilitate peer learning and exchange of experiences among MSME development practitioners, the second edition of the BTK2021 conference is bringing together a diverse range of practitioners in the field of entrepreneurship and MSME promotion to foster a global community of practice and to facilitate exchange and peer learning on the latest developments and on the effective solutions.


I am looking forward to moderating BTK2021conference, including a panel of three notable speakers in entrepreneurship development: David McKenzie (, World Bank Lead Economist), Irene Ochem(, CEO/ Founder of Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) and Bagoré Bathily(, Entrepreneur and owner of “La Laiterie du Berger”).


More than convene speeches, the BTK2021conference will feature solutions from entrepreneurship promotion practitioners through its Call4Solutions, which is now open until the 12th of September. TheCall4Solutions is an avenue for entrepreneurship supporters to share their solutions to challenges faced by MSMEs around three identified tracks:

Track 1: Achieving Dynamic and Resilient Entrepreneurial Ecosystems 

This track aims to: showcase different ways productive entrepreneurial communities have grown; show participants that ecosystems are everywhere, even if they are at an early stage; and spark ideas and connections for participants to nurture ecosystems that enable entrepreneurs to succeed and generate employment. 

Track 2: Accelerating MSME access to financial services through new technologies and skills development program 

This track aims to: showcase best practices regarding effective combinations of financial and NFS or business development support services; reflect on the role of new technologies and tools in this domain, and debate on local skills and training-support programs needed in emerging markets. 

Track 3: Challenging inclusiveness and environmental sustainability in entrepreneurship promotion 

This track aims to: critically reflect on different ways of doing entrepreneurship promotion to achieve more concrete impacts on equality and environmental sustainability. If we keep promoting entrepreneurship the way it is being done, aren’t we contributing to the depletion of natural resources and unequal society? 

We would appreciate it if you could share this information with your network, send us recommendations of candidates, and of course submit your proposal for the Call4Solutions.  

We look forward to e-meeting you in October! 


Parminder Vir OBE will serve as the Moderator for the BTK2021. She has dedicated herself to positively impacting and transforming lives through a professional career spanning 40 years in philanthropy, entrepreneurship, film and television production, arts and culture, and investment funding. She is the co-founder of the Support4AfricaSMEs campaign and The African Farmers Stories, launched in 2020. She served as the CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, based in Lagos, Nigeria from April 2014 to April 2019. Prior to joining the Foundation, Parminder has enjoyed a distinguished career as an awarding winning film and television producer and private equity investor in film and media.