Title

My business pays me: Labourers and entrepreneurs among the self-employed poor in latin America

Document Type

Journal Article

Publisher

Blackwell Publishers Ltd

Faculty

Regional Professional Studies

School

Regional Professional Studies CSESS

RAS ID

1773

Comments

Originally published as: Eversole, R. (2003). My Business Pays Me: Labourers and Entrepreneurs Among the Self–Employed Poor in Latin America. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 22(1), 102-116. Original article available here

Abstract

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–yield activities, with little opportunity to grow their resources?”

DOI

10.1111/1470-9856.00066

 
COinS
 

Link to publisher version (DOI)

10.1111/1470-9856.00066