Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World

Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World

Click on the images below for a visual representation of small business entrepreneurship in developing countries.
The opportunity to become an entrepreneur is integral to building stable, thriving communities. In the developing world, individuals often participate in various types of informal employment such as woodwork, baking or sewing, but lack the capital necessary to turn this work into a full-fledged business of their own. Businesses create important opportunities, not only for their owners, but for the communities where they live and work. In the most successful cases, small businesses may employ five to twenty people while offering products that are locally produced and often more affordable than similar items brought in from other areas.

Globalization has changed the face of small business by providing opportunities for people in the developing world to market their goods and services on a much larger scale. Trade that is unfettered by tariffs and other barriers has the potential to provide small business owners in developing countries the chance to grow and thrive in the global marketplace. As developed nations lower trade barriers, previously protected markets become accessible to entrepreneurs worldwide. It is expected that by lowering trade barriers in developed nations, entrepreneurs from developing countries will be able to break into existing and emerging markets.

These photographs depict the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals supported by Mercy Corps projects in nine countries worldwide. Mercy Corps' supports the development of sustainable economic practice through programs that include microcredit loans and education. Providing individuals with these tools develops both economic and human capital, which, in turn, encourages a more dynamic economic environment for entire communities. Many non-governmental organizations supporting economic development have focused a large amount of their energy on women and entrepreneurship. In many societies, the business skills of women have been undervalued and NGOs like Mercy Corps are working to give women the opportunities that have only been offered to men in the past.

[slideshow: 2, rotate=10, blend=1, layout=bottom, height=650, width=500, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/afghanbeatyparlor.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|Lailuma Aslam Zada is the owner of the Mahtab Beauty Shop in Kabul\, Afghanistan. Her shop is in a market designed exclusively for women where she is free from the cultural pressures of her country. She is a beneficiary of a Mercy Corps' microfinance program. Photographer: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps\, 2004||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/afghanistansewing.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|These sewing machines are for a three-month course in Lashkar\, Afghanistan. Every student in the program receives a sewing machine and a small loan to purchase materials for starting their own business after completion of the course. Participants also receive basic literacy training. This Mercy Corps program is funded by the British Governments' Department for International Development (DFID). Photographer: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps\, 2003||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/afghanistanshop.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|Aziza Rajabi\, 45 years old\, owns the Hashim Super Store in the women's market. In this protected park setting\, women are free to run businesses\, dress as they please and relax without cultural pressures. She is also a beneficiary of a Mercy Corps' microfinance program. Photographer: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps\, 2004||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/chinaloanman.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|This man lives in the small town of Wudao in Yanji Prefector\, China. He is one of 44 Mercy Corps loan recipients in Wudao\, a town of approximately 500 people. Loan amounts are typically for $200 USD and repayable in one year. Most loan recipients use their money to purchase livestock such as pigs and cows\, building their assets and creating a more diverse livelihood portfolio. Photographer: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps\, 2004||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/chinateashop.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|This young woman works in a tea shop in You Ao\, China. While tea is a major export crop in China\, it is also a significant part of the culture. Mercy Corps' programs in China work to bring the benefits of economic growth to those in the region who currently live in high poverty conditions. Projects include economic and agricultural development through skills training and microfinance opportunities. Photographer: Jeremy Barnicle/Mercy Corps, 2005||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/ethiopiastore.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|In Ethiopia\, you may not be able to purchase name brand items\, but stores like this one offer an abundance of gift and novelty items. Although Ethiopia's primary livelihood options remain agricultural in nature\, some individuals seek to cultivate their entrepreneurial spirit locally through trade - Mercy Corps provides much needed assistance. Photographer: Michaela Ledesma/Mercy Corps\, 2004||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/hondurasgoods.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|Ines Guerrero of Honduras makes woven goods out of yarn and string. She also sells finished goods like clothes\, quilts\, blankets\, pillowcases and purses to locals and tourists that visit Flor del Campo where her shop is located. Mercy Corps works closely with its partner organization\, Proyecto Aldea Global to provide sustainable solutions in Honduras\, one of the poorest nations in the region. Photographer: Roger Burks/Mercy Corps\, 2004||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/indonesiaclothing.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|In Banda Aceh\, Indonesia\, Cut Zuni is restarting her clothing and embroidery business a year after the tsunami flooded her shop and workroom. The tsunami destroyed all her materials\, finished merchandise and sewing machines. With a small business loan from Mercy Corps\, she will go to Jakarta to purchase raw materials. Her business employs seven women from her community\, providing much-needed income for her family and others. Photographer: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps\, 2005||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/indonesiamanpallet.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|A man named Yusri begins to build pallets as part of a new business initiative started with the assistance of Mercy Corps in Banda Aceh\, Indonesia. Mercy Corps distributed tools to his community\, which is participating in a livelihoods recovery program. People like Yusri use recycled wood from the debris of the tsunami as building materials and sell their pallets to organizations such as the UN World Food Programme. Photographer: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps\, 2005||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/mongoliabakery.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|This woman is preparing dough in a Mongolian bakery as part of a Mercy Corps beneficiary program. In Mongolia\, Mercy Corps aims to support the establishment of new businesses and strengthen the link between businesses\, markets and agriculture. This bakery is a way for locals to use agricultural and herd products to make a finished product and sell it locally. Photographer: Laura Guimond/Mercy Corps\, 2002||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/northkoreafactory.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|In Najin\, North Korea\, this young woman works in a clothing manufacturing factory. Part of Mercy Corps' operations is to assist in the advancement of women's economic opportunities through creative projects and skill development. Photographer: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps\, 2004||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/portlandtibetshop.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|This Tibetan woman works at the Tibetan Spirit shop in Portland\, Oregon in the United States where she has colorful handmade craft products on display. She is a Mercy Corps beneficiary through the Refugee Immigrant Self-Employment project. Photographer: Jacob Colie/Mercy Corps\, 2001||, img=|articleimages/small_bus_slideshow/tajikistanpants.jpg||Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Developing World|A group of female clients of the National Association of Business Women (ABW)\, in Tajikistan\, pose in front of a table of merchandise they are selling in an open-air market. Through ABW and Mercy Corps these women are able help support themselves and their families. Photographer: Kim Johnston/Mercy Corps\, 2000||, ]

The photographs in this slide show portray some of the ways men and women are embracing entrepreneurship in the developing world. To read more about successful entrepreneurial ventures in developing countries, see the following articles:

"Lending a Hand and a Little Bit More"

"Small Loans Make a Big Difference"

"A Stitch in Time"

Contributed by Rachelle Vanderzanden, Project Intern at GlobalEnvision.
Rachelle is an undergraduate student at Portland State University where she is currently studying political science. She comes to Global Envision and Mercy Corps through a community-based learning program at her university called Student Leaders for Service. Prior to starting her college education Rachelle participated in Americorps' National Civilian Community Corps, a 10-month national service program. Upon completing her degree, Rachelle hopes to pursue a career in international development

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