John Hoffmire: Sometimes small economic development is good economic development

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 17 2013 8:40 a.m. MDT

Elevita is just such an organization. Small in scope, Elevita encompasses more than just buying products from its artisans and selling them on the website. It supports them in such a way that brings lasting economic growth and change. It offers fair wages and prepayments so that its partners can sustain their businesses. It then collaborates with its partners to create new designs and improved quality so they can expand their markets. It provides grants so the artisans can expand their resources and businesses, gain access to new technologies, and create jobs in their communities. It also supports women who are the sole or main support for their families.

Small NGOs, like Elevita, will continue to be criticized by development economists for their lack of efficiencies and small economies of scale. But for Louela Nalzaro, Elevita had all of the right components to help break her family’s cycle of poverty by gaining the resources and skills to first create a job and, more recently, to develop a budding enterprise. Sometimes small is good.

John Hoffmire teaches at SaÏd Business School at the University of Oxford.

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