Supporting Self-Employment and Small-Scale Entrepreneurship: Potential Programs to Improve Livelihoods for Vulnerable Workers


“This paper provides a review of the profiles of the subsistence entrepreneurs and their constraints, and the landscape of current entrepreneurship programs and the evidence on impacts, and discusses the potential role of public policies for the livelihoods of subsistence entrepreneurs. Worldwide over a half of workers are self-employed, but a significant fraction of these self-employed jobs are of low productivity subsistence entrepreneurs. The focus of the entrepreneurship programs to support these self-employed in poverty is to improve their livelihoods rather than promoting cutting-edge innovation and business growth. Evidence of successful programs is limited and program designs often seem ill suited to the needs and characteristics of these subsistence entrepreneurs. Given the market failures faced by subsistence entrepreneurs, interventions that complement safety net programs with well-targeted support to promote productive self-employment may hold some promise.”