Microenterprise Education and Economic Development
Edited by Jeremi Brewer and Stephen W. Gibson
Chapter 4: Necessity entrepreneurs: transforming illiterate mothers into businesswomen
This chapter begins with an attempt to place my own brackets on the definition of who is a 'necessity entrepreneur'. This catchy term attracts me precisely because it brings together two strong and value-laden terms - one inclusive, one potentially exclusive - that for many would seem contradictory. Does 'necessity' explicitly include those persons or households who are considered 'poor', 'very poor', or even 'destitute'? Does the term 'entrepreneur' presume a minimum level of skills, education, or personality traits whose absence would disqualify an illiterate mother from acting entrepreneurially and running a sustainable business? These questions acquire added significance when we consider that the global microfinance move - despite its poverty-alleviation rhetoric - has generally failed to focus its attention and resources on serving the 'bottom billion', the roughly one-fifth of the human family that lives on less than $1/day. And the face that best represents this terribly disadvantaged and neglected sector is that of an illiterate mother and sole breadwinner for three or more dependents, who has lost or been abandoned by her husband.
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