‘Helping a Large Number of People Become a Little Less Poor’: The Logic of Survival Entrepreneurs

  • Erhard Berner
  • Georgina Gomez
  • Peter Knorringa
Original Article


Survival and growth-oriented entrepreneurs follow qualitatively different logics. In this article we retrace the scattered previous theorization of this distinction and present a consolidated set of key characteristics of the two types of enterprises, enriched by our own observations in the field. Our main purpose is to typify the different rationalities of the two groups of entrepreneurs. Second, we argue that because most existing interventions are based on the implicit assumption that all entrepreneurs are growth-oriented, they often fail to address the specific needs of survivalists. Finally, we outline an intervention rationale more attuned to the logic of survival entrepreneurs.

Les entrepreneurs axés sur la survie suivent des logiques qualitativement différentes de ceux dont l′objectif est la croissance économique. Dans cet article nous revenons sur la théorisation déjà vaguement esquissée de cette distinction et présentons un ensemble consolidé des caractéristiques clés des deux types d′entreprises, en nous appuyant sur nos propres observations de terrain. Nous cherchons, en premier lieu, à caractériser les logiques des deux catégories d′entrepreneurs. Puis, nous montrons que les interventions sont généralement fondées sur l′hypothèse implicite que tous les entrepreneurs sont axés sur la croissance. De ce fait, celles-ci répondent mal aux besoins spécifiques des entreprises axées sur la survie. Enfin, nous décrivons une approche d′intervention plus en lien avec la logique des entrepreneurs qui sont axés sur la survie.


microenterprise survival entrepreneurs enterprise development poverty alleviation developing countries 


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erhard Berner
    • 1
  • Georgina Gomez
    • 1
  • Peter Knorringa
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University RotterdamThe HagueThe Netherlands

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