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Microenterprise in the First and Third Worlds


  • Mark Schreiner

    (Washington University in St. Louis)


Sparked by examples from the third world, hundreds of microenterprise programmes have been started in the first world. Will they be successful? This paper reviews the evidence and concludes that microenterprise development is more difficult in the first world. For example, the microenterprise sector in the first world is smaller because most people can get wage jobs and because of the public safety net. Unlike third-world entrepreneurs, first-world entrepreneurs are more often constrained by lack of savings rather than a lack of credit. Most microenterprise programmes, however, can do little to facilitate savings. Because many first-world entrepreneurs also lack skills, most first-world programmes focus on training. The cost-revenue structure of this training, however, is not sustainable. The paper offers several suggestions for how to address the challenges of microenterprise development in the first world.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Schreiner, 2001. "Microenterprise in the First and Third Worlds," Development and Comp Systems 0108001, EconWPA, revised 27 Dec 2001.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0108001
    Note: Type of Document - Adobe Acrobat 3.0; prepared on Windows 98; to print on Adobe Acrobat 3.0; pages: ; figures: Included in pdf file

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bhatt, Nitin & Tang, Shui-Yan, 1998. "The problem of transaction costs in group-based microlending: An institutional perspective," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 623-637, April.
    2. N. Berger, Allen & F. Udell, Gregory, 1998. "The economics of small business finance: The roles of private equity and debt markets in the financial growth cycle," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(6-8), pages 613-673, August.
    3. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Joulfaian, David & Rosen, Harvey S, 1994. "Sticking It Out: Entrepreneurial Survival and Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 53-75, February.
    4. Hubbard, R Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1995. "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 360-399, April.
    5. Mark Schreiner, 2001. "Resources Used to Produce Individual Development Accounts in the First Two Years of the Experimental Program of the American Dream Demonstration at the Community Action Project of Tulsa County," Finance 0108003, EconWPA, revised 27 Dec 2001.
    6. Zeller, Manfred & Sharma, Manohar, 2000. "Many borrow, more save, and all insure: implications for food and micro-finance policy," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 143-167, April.
    7. Hossain, Mahabub, 1988. "Credit for alleviation of rural poverty: the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh," Research reports 65, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Powers, Elizabeth T., 1998. "Does means-testing welfare discourage saving? evidence from a change in AFDC policy in the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 33-53, April.
    9. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
    10. Devarajan, Shantayanan & Squire, Lyn & Suthiwart-Narueput, Sethaput, 1997. "Beyond Rate of Return: Reorienting Project Appraisal," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 12(1), pages 35-46, February.
    11. Philip Bond & Robert M. Townsend, 1996. "Formal and informal financing in a Chicago neighborhood," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Jul, pages 3-27.
    12. Mark Schreiner & Jonathan Morduch, 2001. "Replicating Microfinance in the United States: Opportunities and Challenges," Development and Comp Systems 0109002, EconWPA.
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    More about this item


    Microenterprise; microfinance; savings; loans; community development; not-for-profit;

    JEL classification:

    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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