- Current debates on small enterprise support – synthesis note
- Resources on small enterprises
- Overview documents and links
- Access to finance
- Business environment reform, trade facilitation and small enterprises
- High growth enterprises
- Small enterprises and gender
- Small enterprise productivity and innovation
- Small enterprise support programmes and evaluations
- Guidance for small enterprise promotion
Over US$24.5 billion of development aid is targeted at Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and donor interest is increasing; yet targeting small enterprises is controversial. Advocates maintain that smaller enterprises are the place where most poor people find employment and economic opportunity; targeting them with assistance makes more sense than helping larger companies (which may not need as much help anyway). Opponents of such targeting, however, argue that much employment is also lost through ‘churning’, as small enterprises come and go. Besides, they note, it is important to look at the private sector as a whole, since small enterprises often depend on larger ones for their inputs and markets.
This page explores the debates in more detail, and points you to further reading and key resources on the topic. Resources relevant for programmes promoting small enterprise development are also available on the DCED Knowledge Pages on different PSD approaches. To suggest additions to this page, contact the DCED Secretariat.
Current debates on small enterprise support – synthesis note
For a DCED summary of ‘Six Debates on Small Enterprises and Development Agency Support’ click here.
Resources on small enterprises
- Small and medium-sized enterprises and decent and productive employment creation, ILO, 2015.
- The main obstacles to firms’ growth in Senegal: Implications for the long-run, UNU-WIDER Working Paper, 2014.
- Micro, small and medium enterprise upgrading in low- and middle-income countries: literature review, DIE, 2013.
- Which factors determine the upgrading of small and medium enterprises? Evidence from Egypt, India and the Philippines, DIE, 2013.
- Is Small Still Beautiful? Literature Review of Recent Empirical Evidence on the Contribution of SMEs to Employment Creation, ILO, GIZ and BMZ, 2013.
- Policy Guidebook for SME Development in Asia and the Pacific, UNESCAP, 2012.
- Is Small Beautiful? Small Enterprise, Aid and Employment in Africa, UNU/WIDER Working Paper, 2012.
- Small vs. Young Firms across the World, Contribution to Employment, Job Creation, and Growth, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 2011.
- Is Small Beautiful and Worthy of Subsidy? Literature Review, IFC, 2002.
- Enterweb: Knowledge Portal for Small Business
Access to finance
- Scaling-Up SME Access to Financial Services in the Developing World, IFC, 2010.
- Assessing the Credit Gap for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises in the Developing World, McKinsey and IFC, 2010.
- Financing Constraints of SME in Developing Countries: Evidence, determinants and solutions, T. Beck, 2007.
- Financial and Legal Constraints to Firm Growth: Does Firm Size Matter? Journal of Finance, 60, 2005.
Business environment reform, trade facilitation and small enterprises
- The Impact of Business Environment on Small and Medium Enterprise, Erick Rocha, 2014.
- Micro-Multinationals, Global Consumers and the WTO. Towards a 21st Century Trade Regime, eBay, 2013.
- Commerce 3.0 for Development. The promise of the global empowerment network. An eBay report based on an empirical study conducted by Sidley Austing LLP, 2013.
- Doing Business 2014. Understanding Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises, The World Bank, 2013.
- Unleashing potential: The Internet’s Role in the Performance of Indian Small and Medium Enterprises, Nathan Associates, 2013.
- Big constraints to small firms’ growth? Business environment and employment growth across firms. Economic Development and Cultural Change Vol. 59(3), 2011.
- The impact of investment climate on employment growth: Does Sub-Saharan African mirror other low-income regions? World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 2010.
- Donor approaches to improving the Business Environment for Small enterprises, Simon White, 2004.
High growth enterprises
- High-growth entrepreneurship in developing countries. A preliminary literature review, The World Bank, 2016.
- Small and Growing Businesses: Investing in the Missing Middle for Poverty Alleviation, ANDE, 2012.
- Constrained Gazelles: High Potentials in West Africa’s Informal Economy, World Development vol. 40/7, 2012.
- SME Innovators and Gazelles in MENA – Educate, Train, Certify, Compete, The World Bank, 2011.
- Household enterprises in Mozambique: Key to poverty reduction but not on the development agenda? World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 2013.
- Helping a Large Number of People Become a Little Less Poor: The Logic of Survival Entrepreneurs. European Journal of Development Research, 2012.
- Household enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa: Why they matter for growth, jobs, and livelihoods, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 2012.
- Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, in: Reluctant Entrepreneurs, Abhitjit Banjeree and Esther Duflo, 2011.
- The Unofficial Economy and Economic Development, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39/2, 2008.
Small enterprises and gender
- Growing micro-enterprises: How gender and family can impact outcomes – evidence from Uganda, ILO, 2017.
- The Women’s Entrepreneurship Index (FEI), GEDI Institute, 2015.
- Gender and the Business Environment for New Firm Creation, The World Bank Research Observer, vol 26/2, 2011.
- The Challenges of Growing Small Businesses: Insights from Women Entrepreneurs in Africa, ILO, 2004.
Small enterprise productivity and innovation
- Market Dynamics and Productivity in Developing Countries: Economic Reforms in the Middle East and North Africa, IDRC/Springer, 2010.
- Innovative Firms or Innovative Owners? Determinants of Innovation in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 2009.
- Productivity enhancement and equitable development: challenges for SME development, UNIDO, 2006.
- Manufacturing Firms in Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, and Why?, James Thybout, 2000.
Small enterprise support programmes and evaluations
- Improving market access for smallholder farmers: What works in out-grower schemes – Evidence from Timor-Leste, ILO, 2017.
- What do we know about the effectiveness of Business Management Training? Key studies referenced in the DCED Evidence Framework, DCED, 2013.
- The impact of SENAI’s vocational training programme on employment, wages, and mobility in Brazil, IRIBA, 2014.
- The Impact of the SEED Capital Program of SERCOTEC in Chile, IADB, 2011.
- Impact Evaluation of Small and Medium Enterprise Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. The World Bank, 2010.
Guidance for small enterprise promotion
- SME Promotion Agencies – Is there a best set-up? A quest for good practice, ILO, 2016.
- Guidelines for reducing municipal red tape. How municipalities can improve service delivery that supports small business, DTI South Africa, 2013.
- LINK methodology: A participatory guide to business models that link smallholders to markets. CIAT, 2012.
- Designing a Tax System for MSEs: Guide for Practitioners, IFC, 2008.
- Developing SMEs Through Business Linkages, IFC, 2008.
- Assessing the Influence of the Business Environment on Small Enterprise Employment, ILO, 2004.
- Business Development Services for small enterprises: Guiding principles for donor Intervention, DCED, 2001.
- Further guidance is available on various PSD approaches that incorporate small enterprise promotion.