The "Individualist Entrepreneur" vs. Socially Sustainable Development: Can Microfinance Build Community?
Journal of Economic Issues, 2014, vol. 48, issue 2, 377-386
In the post-Washington Consensus era, increasing emphasis on private sector-led strategies for economic growth has contributed to the focus of policymakers on entrepreneurship. However, many programs designed to support entrepreneurship are based on an erroneous and biased image of the entrepreneur, with important consequences for development processes and outcomes. Longstanding ideology underlying the entrepreneur as a rugged individual hero shapes not only the masculinist notion of entrepreneurship in most societies, but also the narrow focus and structure of entrepreneurship programs. Microfinance, however, is generally conceptualized as being "different" from other programs, particularly given its informal sector reach and common group lending model. This paper investigates the extent to which microfinance is able to build community, and to sustain individual entrepreneurs' attention to social solidarity economy. Alternative approaches to microfinance, which fundamentally restructure the way it works — specifically considering the issue of community-building — are discussed as a possible "next evolution" of this form of social enterprise.
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