Small- and medium-sized enterprises play a key role in our economies and societies, especially in rural areas. They are also critical to attract and maximise the benefits of inward FDI. But SMEs were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and vulnerabilities have been exacerbated by inflationary pressures, disruptions in global supply chains and financial market volatility, which threaten the recovery. Moreover, SMEs in rural areas face additional challenges of remoteness to markets, and more restrictive access to labour and capital. This session will focus on the challenges of developing SMEs in rural areas as well as the opportunities that can be leveraged on in light of on-going mega-trends, and consider policy measures to address these challenges and exploit opportunities.