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  EDIAIS Conference November 24-25, 2003




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    home > conference - November 24-25, 2003

    Enterprise Development Impact Assessment Information Service (EDIAIS)


    Gerry Hofstede, Grupo Intercambio, Peru

    Between Profits and Fairness: Quality and Equitable Services for SMEs

    Link to full paper


    Balancing economic and social objectives represents a big challenge in the field of small and microenterprise (SME) promotion. How best to pursue both profitable and equitable services, especially for the poorer segments of SMEs, is a difficult question that many microfinance institutions (MFIs) and business development services (BDS) providers, grapple with. Similarly, assessing the performance of SME support services in terms of economic and social results, are relevant issues to be addressed. One of the most pressing social equity issues of our times concerns gender equality. This paper focuses on the performance of SME support entities and highlights how they address gender equality and women's empowerment. We will look at what instruments and intervention strategies can realistically and successfully be implemented in the framework of SME support, with a view to furthering both economic as well as the social objectives of gender equality. The paper draws on 98 case studies of BDS providers and MFIs that competed in the Gender Best Practices Contests organized by INTERCAMBIO between 2000 and 2002 in the Andean Region and Central America. We will discuss the main gender best practices that were identified based on these contest experiences (For the complete text, kindly refer to the respective publication: Hofstede, G., Contreras, J., Mayta, L,: January 2003. Between Profits and Fairness, Quality and Equitable Services for SMEs in Latin America, Grupo Intercambio, Lima, Peru) which include conceptual elements for a framework on measuring the performance of social equity and economic objectives in the context of SME support. The paper seeks to contribute to current debates on impact-related issues of quality, equality, sustainability and fairness in the delivery of business services to SMEs. We will argue that the equity issue of gender represents a source of innovation and creativity, giving rise new perspectives and orientations in the field of SME support in balancing an entrepreneurial focus with a social commitment.

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