Necessity Entrepreneurs

Necessity Entrepreneurs

Microenterprise Education and Economic Development

Edited by Jeremi Brewer and Stephen W. Gibson

Necessity entrepreneurs, in developing countries, are individuals who start small enterprises out of necessity. While they range from street sellers to educated hopefuls with little access to formal employment, the one thing that unites them is the need to survive. This volume is the first-known compilation of theories contributed by international scholars who have worked together to establish a theory-based discourse on necessity entrepreneurship, micro-enterprise education, and long-term economic development.

Chapter 2: Understanding and helping the necessity entrepreneur prosper

Stephen W. Gibson

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, family business, development studies, social entrepreneurship


I remember the first necessity entrepreneur I ever met - unfortunately, perhaps I should say failed necessity entrepreneur. This single experience marked a turning point in my life, motivating me to undertake a quest that has now lasted 14 years and touched the lives of many people, with no end in sight. I was on my third week-long volunteer trip in the Philippines when I first got to know Arlene, a 24-year-old Filipina living in humble rural circumstances in northern Luzon. No doubt once hopeful for the future, she now seemed depressed and downtrodden, and for good reason. About a year before I met her, Arlene had suffered a terrible accident while doing volunteer humanitarian work on Manila's crowded and noisy streets. The jeepney she was riding in was rear-ended by a truck, and Arlene's mangled legs had to be amputated, leaving her wheelchair-bound for life. Arlene's volunteer organization felt an obligation to help her financially. They sent out an American husband-and-wife team to build some shelves on her small porch, so she could run a little grocery store or sari-sari store, as such businesses are called in the Philippines. The couple painted the shelves green and stocked them with canned goods and non-perishable food. Arlene would be able to run the store from her wheelchair, and her merchandise would help supply her small rural village of 30 homes. Most of all, the couple hoped that the store would enable Arlene to escape poverty and move toward self-reliance.

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