When we think of a 'strategy' we usually think of something large and bold, something sharp and clear, in short a blueprint. So when the German Corporation for Technical Co-operation (GTZ) was asked by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to become involved in developing a strategy for small enterprises in Kenya, there were some reservations about making a blueprint for a sector so notoriously difficult to define.On the other hand here was a situation where there was unanimous agreement among policy-makers, the private sector and donors that a strategy was needed if Kenya was to prepare itself for the coming decade – political will, institutional capacity and available resources, all were to be mobilized to make small enterprises the largest source of employment in the foreseeable future. Many other countries have stressed the important role that small businesses play in their economies but few have gone even so far as to give it the prominence which it currently enjoys in Kenya. Why has the sector suddenly emerged as a virtual panacea for unemployment?
It is obvious that there is a great need for small business and self-employment in both developed and developing countries. This article looks at the situation in South Africa, in particular, where there is an urgency to create a good environment for potential entrepreneurship among the black communities, and suggests change, using the experiences of programmes in the UK. Two placement and training programmes are analysed for their potential in raising student awareness of small business, and it is proposed that much could he adapted to suit the situations in developing countries.
Several years ago, Rob Hitchins, Aly Miehlbradt, and myself were running a small workshop on market development at a Swiss Development Corporation event in Nottwil, Switzerland organized by SDC’s Income and Employment division. We were in the middle of a long-winded and complicated definition of our subject which, of course, included multiple diagrams of doughnuts, scale, sustainability, and impact, when a participant at the back of the room chirped up and said ‘Isn’t what you are talking about just good development?’ And, indeed, it is! This short article is about how this kind of enterprise development, since its genesis in the late 1990s, became ‘good’. It touches on some of the early origins of enterprise support services and microfinance in the late 1980s and the recognition that the poor could pay market rates for loans or other key inputs, as long as these investments, however small, had clear impact and short-term returns.