Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employ more than 50% of the population of developed countries, so their support is one of the significant measures in maintaining employment. The relevance of this direction has grown since the crisis of 2020, which caused significant damage to the SME sector. The aim of the work was systematization and generalization of the developed countries’ experience in SME support in crisis and non-crisis periods, identification of support tools needed in Russia. The tasks of the study included analyzing both the experience of the development of employment support policies and tools for supporting and developing entrepreneurship using various crises as an example. The research was carried out using general scientific methods (analysis, synthesis, induction and deduction, comparisons, generalizations, etc.). The authors reviewed the literature and open sources relevant for 2021, including reports by international organizations, regulatory legal acts. The results of the research are conclusions about the foreign experience of employment support and the possibility of its application in Russia. The main direction of the employment support policy in non-crisis periods abroad is to create motivation for medium- and long-term unemployed to look for work, to attract vulnerable social groups to work; acceleration programs are used to support SMEs by reducing administrative pressure and increasing regulatory transparency. During the current crisis, the government support for business abroad intensified in two directions: supporting the liquidity of companies and facilitating the maximum transfer of activities to a remote, digital mode. Over the past decade, Russia has actively advanced in non-crisis support for SMEs, but in the current crisis, it needs to expand the areas of preferential lending or cofinancing, and step up assistance to digitalize the activities of SMEs. The main direction of further research is to analyze the use of said foreign instruments in Russia, compare their effectiveness and adjust them taking into consideration Russian specifics.
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