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My Business Pays Me: Labourers and Entrepreneurs Among the Self-Employed Poor in Latin America


Eversole, R, My Business Pays Me: Labourers and Entrepreneurs Among the Self-Employed Poor in Latin America, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 22, (1) pp. 102-116. ISSN 0261-3050 (2003) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/1470-9856.00066


Are the independent economic activities of poor people "petty commodity production"-an informal way to earn a subsistence wage? Or are they "microentrepreneurship", a launching point for capital accumulation and growth? This paper draws on fieldwork in Bolivia, Peru and Guatemala, focusing specifically on the poorest businesses. In-depth interviews indicate that even the smallest-scale producers, merchants and service providers have goals of "improving" their business and "growing" their capital, not unlike their capitalist counterparts. Yet, while growth is desirable, maintaining one's business as a steady source of income is a sufficient achievement for many. Poor self-employed people are both "labourers" and "entrepreneurs"; the key macro-level question becomes, not "Do petty-commodity producers have different goals than capitalist entrepreneurs", but "What resources are lacking, and what obstacles exist, that keep many microentrepreneurs in low-yeild activities, with little opportunity to grow their resources?".

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Public policy
Objective Division:Indigenous
Objective Group:Pacific Peoples community services
Objective Field:Pacific Peoples community services not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Eversole, R (Professor Robyn Eversole)
ID Code:43879
Year Published:2003
Deposited By:Institute for Regional Development
Deposited On:2007-11-15
Last Modified:2011-09-15

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