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They are entrepreneurs of necessity

At the poorest level (the “base of the pyramid”), those who operate the innumerable “informal” businesses are rarely savvy upstarts who identify unmet needs and come up with innovative solutions. There are few jobs available; the only way they can meet their living needs is to figure out how to sell something.  Worse, the “business owners” are often children selling food and trinkets on the street.

There’s little help and lots they don’t know

It’s lonely at the bottom.  There are no Small Business Administrations to provide support.  Unstable, under-resourced governments’ lack of regulation and unwieldy red tape don’t provide the necessary infrastructure. Aid agencies, NGOs, and social businesses do  provide financial/resource aid and technical training; there's just too little of it.

The most overlooked aspect of the problem is that the vast majority of business owners simply do not know how to run a business.  No one ever taught them to record what they spend, produce, or take in.  They mix their household funds with business income and expenses.  They don’t know about productivity.  They’re unable to plan the business or manage the day-to-day ups and downs.  It’s a recipe for failure.

Entrepreneurship is no one’s dream

In developed countries we tend to glorify entrepreneurship (and rightly so!), but in many cultures owning a business doesn’t come with bragging rights.  It means the person doesn’t have the education or means to get a “real job”.  Plus the work itself can be onerous and not exactly gratifying.

Hunger and poverty make for short time horizons

These entrepreneurs live day-to-day and hand-to-mouth.  That makes for a continuous cycle of never-ending subsistence living and the inability to consider future needs.  

     

There isn’t nearly enough attention paid to entrepreneurship as a tool for aid - aidtrepreneurship.  Young enterprises need access to funding, skills training, and an enabling business environment.  They especially need longer term mentoring and coaching.   Let’s establish programs that let the poor make an honest living.