SME InitiativeEntrepreneurship for Development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are widely seen as engines of economic growth. In developed countries, they are credited with creating jobs, delivering innovation and raising productivity. But SMEs in developing countries are not currently meeting that promise. While there is no lack of interest in promoting entrepreneurship in poor countries, we do lack evidence about what helps, or even what represent the biggest barriers to growth.
The Small and Medium Enterprise Initiative focuses on building the evidence that we need to innovate, implement and scale programs that promote entrepreneurial growth.
- Build a network of researchers, practitioners and policy makers focused on SME development. We facilitate collaboration between researchers with innovative ideas and practitioners willing to test those ideas in the field; we connect people tackling similar problems so they can share and exchange ideas; and we guide policy makers on the best research and practice.
- Build knowledge by funding, conducting and enabling rigorous research studies on the contribution of small and medium enterprises to poverty alleviation and economic development. Our studies explore at least one of three main areas that may constrain or enable SME growth: financial access, human capital and skills, and access to markets and information.
- Share findings and influence stakeholders so that the knowledge we develop about the real enablers of and constraints to SME growth can be put in the hands of those in the best position to apply them and bring effective programs to scale.
Most of our research focuses on three key topics of interest:
- Access to Finance
- Human Capital and Skills
- Access to Markets
Though several of these topics (access to finance in particular) have been examined extensively at the microfinance level within developing economies, SME-focused research is lacking. In addition, three cross-cutting themes garner particular attention: economic growth; poverty alleviation and job creation; and social empowerment and gender.
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare.
The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose, including exploring effective ways to empower the world’s poor to make progress towards prosperity.
SEVEN (Social Equity Venture Fund) is a virtual non-profit entity run by entrepreneurs whose strategy is to markedly increase the rate of innovation and diffusion of enterprise-based solutions to poverty. It does this by targeted investment that fosters thought leadership through books, films and websites; supporting role models - whether they are entrepreneurs or innovative firms - in developing nations; and shaping a new discourse in government, the press and the academy around private-sector innovation, prosperity and progressive human values.
The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) supports economic growth and poverty reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean through encouraging increased private investment and advancing private sector development. It works with the private sector to develop, finance, and execute innovative business models that benefit entrepreneurs and poor and low-income households; partners with a wide variety of institutions from the private, public and nonprofit sectors; evaluates results; and shares lessons learned.