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‘Helping a Large Number of People Become a Little Less Poor’: The Logic of Survival Entrepreneurs


  • Erhard Berner

    (Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Hague, The Netherlands.)

  • Georgina Gomez

    (Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Hague, The Netherlands.)

  • Peter Knorringa

    (Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Hague, The Netherlands.)


Survival and growth-oriented entrepreneurs follow qualitatively different logics. In this article we retrace the scattered previous theorization of this distinction and present a consolidated set of key characteristics of the two types of enterprises, enriched by our own observations in the field. Our main purpose is to typify the different rationalities of the two groups of entrepreneurs. Second, we argue that because most existing interventions are based on the implicit assumption that all entrepreneurs are growth-oriented, they often fail to address the specific needs of survivalists. Finally, we outline an intervention rationale more attuned to the logic of survival entrepreneurs.Les entrepreneurs axés sur la survie suivent des logiques qualitativement différentes de ceux dont l′objectif est la croissance économique. Dans cet article nous revenons sur la théorisation déjà vaguement esquissée de cette distinction et présentons un ensemble consolidé des caractéristiques clés des deux types d′entreprises, en nous appuyant sur nos propres observations de terrain. Nous cherchons, en premier lieu, à caractériser les logiques des deux catégories d′entrepreneurs. Puis, nous montrons que les interventions sont généralement fondées sur l′hypothèse implicite que tous les entrepreneurs sont axés sur la croissance. De ce fait, celles-ci répondent mal aux besoins spécifiques des entreprises axées sur la survie. Enfin, nous décrivons une approche d′intervention plus en lien avec la logique des entrepreneurs qui sont axés sur la survie.

Suggested Citation

  • Erhard Berner & Georgina Gomez & Peter Knorringa, 2012. "‘Helping a Large Number of People Become a Little Less Poor’: The Logic of Survival Entrepreneurs," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 24(3), pages 382-396, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:eurjdr:v:24:y:2012:i:3:p:382-396

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    Cited by:

    1. Amit Basole & Deepankar Basu & Rajesh Bhattacharya, 2014. "Determinants and Impact of Subcontracting: Evidence from India’s Informal Manufacturing Sector," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2014-04, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    2. Kanothi, R.N., 2009. "The dynamics of entrepreneurship in ICT: case of mobile phones downstream services in Kenya," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18727, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    3. Grimm, Michael & Knorringa, Peter & Lay, Jann, 2012. "Constrained Gazelles: High Potentials in West Africa’s Informal Economy," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1352-1368.
    4. Milo Bianchi, 2010. "Credit constraints, entrepreneurial talent, and economic development," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 93-104, January.
    5. Fiala, Nathan, 2014. "Economic Consequences of Forced Displacement," Working Papers 29, University of Connecticut, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy.
    6. Meghana Ayyagari & Asli Demirguc-Kunt & Vojislav Maksimovic, 2014. "Who creates jobs in developing countries?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 75-99, June.
    7. Verrest, Hebe, 2013. "Rethinking Microentrepreneurship and Business Development Programs: Vulnerability and Ambition in Low-income Urban Caribbean Households," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 58-70.

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