Article

The "Individualist Entrepreneur" vs. Socially Sustainable Development: Can Microfinance Build Community?

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Abstract

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. Long-standing 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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... In this regard, Warnecke (2014) has argued that the design of some public policies dealing with entrepreneurship explained their efficacy. Warnecke's work is useful to understand how the trust gained (or lost) by the entrepreneurs has led to creation of microfinance strategies, which are specially needed by those young entrepreneurs. ...
... In this regard, it seems that the social acceptance of the entrepreneurial success is not directly linked to the entrepreneurial decisions, but a mechanism could be required to explain its influence on entrepreneurship. In fact, Warnecke's (2014) work goes along this line, since it is suggested that the trust gained by the entrepreneurs is presumably beneficial to the access of the financial system. Here, even though our evidence is neither suggestive nor conclusive, we agree that public policies should not deviate from encouraging the trust's gains required to increase the entrepreneurial activity across individuals. ...
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