Social Inclusion through Microenterprise Development
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Chapter 6: Microcredit in Portugal
Manuel Brandão Alves* 1 National context Portugal is today considered a developed country, albeit with levels of wellbeing still somewhat removed from the average of other Western European countries. There has been remarkable progress in the past decades, but it has been accompanied by an increase in economic and social instability hardly permissible in a modern and competitive society capable of generating progress. This is not only the result of internal dynamics but is also due to structural changes in the way economies work globally. One of the major effects of these recent structural changes has been the increase in the unemployment rate. In a relatively short time, Portugal changed from being one of the countries in the EU with the lowest unemployment rate to one whose rate is above average. This accelerated change has caught most of the international community by surprise. Capital, goods and people move at a speed and complexity which makes it very difficult to carry out medium and long-term projections. Political maps are drawn and re-drawn as countless ethnical and political groups emerge to make new claims and demand new territories. These changes cause social tension that development policies are incapable of controlling. Simultaneously, it has been assumed that by applying the same economic principles that work for market economies, social questions will solve themselves; dynamic and functional markets would not only generate wealth but would solve people’s problems with levels of well-being. Every analysis that has been carried out leads us to conclude...
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