Buying better: how innovation is helping unlock government procurement for SMEs

February 3, 2022
Supply chains

Procurement is one of the largest areas of government spend – and one of the most important. Departments and agencies need to deliver value for money for citizens, but they can also use procurement to deliver public policy objectives and drive innovation in the economy.

But often governments struggle to get the widest range of possible bidders, as many small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often don’t bid for government contracts.

There are several reasons for this – as the World Bank has highlighted, negotiating government procurement can be a struggle for SMEs, while long government payment cycles often mean smaller firms can’t afford to wait for the money to arrive.

This is bad for both government, which misses out on new ideas, and for the firms, which miss out on valuable business.

But technology and innovation is helping governments to better engage potential SME suppliers. In Australia,  the government announced that federal agencies would start paying e-invoices within five days or pay interest on late payments.

In India and Chile, governments have launched centralised e-procurement marketplaces that allow firms to register as suppliers – making it easier for government to purchase from SMEs, especially micro and small enterprises.

This webinar with Mastercard will look at how government can make the process of participating in public procurement easier for SMEs, and support this vital sector of the economy. It will consider:

  • How have the challenges and opportunities for SME participation in government procurement changed in recent years?
  • Which policies and innovative practices have led to governments successfully supporting SME suppliers?
  • How can improved access to financing and faster payments help ensure the widest range of suppliers to government?

Public servants can register here for free to attend this webinar


USA/Canada Eastern Time (EST): 07:30 – 08:45
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT): 12:30 – 13:45
Central European Time (CET): 13:30 – 14:45
Eastern European Time (EET): 14:30 – 15:45
Singapore Time (SGT): 20:30 – 21:45
Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST): 23:30 – 00:45


Paul Allison, Head of Financial Services, Crown Commercial Service, United Kingdom

Biography to follow

Olga LaBelle, Vice President, Government Engagement, Mastercard, USA

Olga LaBelle leads the strategy and operations work for the Government Engagement team at Mastercard. In this role, she identifies opportunities for Mastercard to partner with the public sector on key strategic topics – including financial inclusion, economic development, supporting small and medium enterprises, and supporting economic recovery of key sectors like tourism.

Before joining Mastercard, Olga was at Boston Consulting Group, where she focused on public sector, social impact, and education. She helped develop the topic of Total Societal Impact, helping corporations use social and environmental needs as a lens for strategic growth and long-term competitive advantage.

Olga has a BA in Political Science from Yale University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Webinar chair: Siobhan Benita, former UK senior civil servant

Siobhan Benita was a senior civil servant with over 15 years’ Whitehall experience. She worked in many of the major delivery departments, including Transport, Environment, Health and Local Government. She also had senior roles at the heart of Government in the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, including supporting the then Cabinet Secretary, Lord O’Donnell to lead work on Civil Service reform and strategy. Siobhan left the Civil Service to run as an independent candidate in the Mayor of London election. She subsequently joined her alma mater, Warwick University as Chief Strategy Officer of Warwick in London and Co-Director of the Warwick Policy Lab.