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Is Small Beautiful? Small Enterprise, Aid and Employment in Africa


  • Sam Jones
  • John Page
  • Abebe Shimeles
  • Finn Tarp
  • John Page
  • Måns Söderbom


type="main" xml:lang="en"> Aid providers often describe small firms as ‘job creators’. But what types of jobs do they create? Drawing on enterprise survey data for nine African countries and panel data for Ethiopia we find that small and large formal sector firms create similar numbers of net jobs. Small firms, however, have much higher turnover of employment and pay persistently lower wages. To create more ‘good’ jobs aid should target the constraints to the growth of firms of all sizes. Improving the ‘investment climate’ and new programs to increase firms' capabilities—through, for example, management training—offer greater prospects for employment creation.

Suggested Citation

  • Sam Jones & John Page & Abebe Shimeles & Finn Tarp & John Page & Måns Söderbom, 2015. "Is Small Beautiful? Small Enterprise, Aid and Employment in Africa," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 27(S1), pages 44-55, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:afrdev:v:27:y:2015:i:s1:p:44-55

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    Cited by:

    1. Simplice A. Asongu & Nicholas M. Odhiambo, 2019. "Foreign Aid Complementarities and Inclusive Human Development in Africa," CEREDEC Working Papers 19/021, Centre de Recherche pour le Développement Economique (CEREDEC).
    2. John Ssozi & Simplice A. Asongu, Phd & Voxi Amavilah, 2018. "The Effectiveness Of Development Aid For Agriculture In Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 1 3005, Office Of The Chief Economist, Development Bank of Nigeria.
    3. Vanessa S. Tchamyou & Simplice A. Asongu & Nicholas M. Odhiambo, 2019. "The Role of ICT in Modulating the Effect of Education and Lifelong Learning on Income Inequality and Economic Growth in Africa," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 31(3), pages 261-274, September.
    4. Asongu, Simplice A. & Orim, Stella-Maris I. & Nting, Rexon T., 2019. "Inequality, information technology and inclusive education in sub-Saharan Africa," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 380-389.
    5. John Page, 2016. "Industry in Tanzania Performance, prospects, and public policy," WIDER Working Paper Series 005, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. Crick, Florence & Eskander, Shaikh M.S.U. & Fankhauser, Sam & Diop, Mamadou, 2018. "How do African SMEs respond to climate risks? Evidence from Kenya and Senegal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 157-168.
    7. Asongu, Simplice A. & Nnanna, Joseph & Acha-Anyi, Paul N., 2020. "Inequality and gender economic inclusion: The moderating role of financial access in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 173-185.
    8. Boso, Nathaniel & Adeleye, Ifedapo & Donbesuur, Francis & Gyensare, Michael, 2019. "Do entrepreneurs always benefit from business failure experience?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 370-379.
    9. Simplice A. Asongu & Vanessa S. Tchamyou, 2019. "Foreign Aid, Education and Lifelong Learning in Africa," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 10(1), pages 126-146, March.
    10. Tony Addison & Ville Pikkarainen & Risto Rönkkö & Finn Tarp, 2017. "Development and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 169, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    11. Asongu, Simplice A & Odhiambo, Nicholas Mbaya, 2019. "Foreign aid complementarities and inclusive human development in Africa," Working Papers 25397, University of South Africa, Department of Economics.
    12. Stewart Ngandu & Carolyn Chisadza, 2018. "Employer characteristics and youth employment outcomes in the formal sector in South Africa: Assessment using administrative tax data," WIDER Working Paper Series 82, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    13. Abubakar, Yazid Abdullahi & Hand, Chris & Smallbone, David & Saridakis, George, 2019. "What specific modes of internationalization influence SME innovation in Sub-Saharan least developed countries (LDCs)?," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 56-70.
    14. Andinet Woldemichael & Margaret Joldowski & Abebe Shimeles, 2019. "Working Paper 330 - Labor Market Flexibility and Jobs in Selected African Countries," Working Paper Series 2456, African Development Bank.
    15. Florence Crick & Mamadou Diop & Momadou Sow & Birame Diouf & Babacar Diouf & Joseph Muhwanga & Muna Dajani, 2016. "Enabling private sector adaptation in developing countries and their semi-arid regions – case studies of Senegal and Kenya," GRI Working Papers 258, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    16. Simplice A. Asongu & Jacinta C. Nwachukwu, 2016. "Rational Asymmetric Development, Piketty and Poverty in Africa," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 13(2), pages 221-246, December.
    17. Janvier Nkurunziza, 2016. "MSMEs Financing in Burundi and its Welfare Effect," BeFinD Working Papers 0111, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    18. Abidemi C. Adegboye & Samuel Iweriebor, 2018. "Does Access to Finance Enhance SME Innovation and Productivity in Nigeria? Evidence from the World Bank Enterprise Survey," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 30(4), pages 449-461, December.
    19. Fumitaka Furuoka, 2017. "Determinants of China's and Japan's Foreign Aid Allocations in Africa," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 29(3), pages 376-388, September.
    20. Florian Leon & Samuel Monteiro, 2019. "Financial constraints, factor combination and Gibrat's law in Africa," Working Papers hal-02493343, HAL.
    21. Mastewal Yami & Shiferaw Feleke & Tahirou Abdoulaye & Arega D. Alene & Zoumana Bamba & Victor Manyong, 2019. "African Rural Youth Engagement in Agribusiness: Achievements, Limitations, and Lessons," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(1), pages 1-15, January.
    22. Krishnakumar, Jaya & Nogales, Ricardo, 2020. "Education, skills and a good job: A multidimensional econometric analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).

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