Topic 1: MSME segmentation and entrepreneur-centred approaches

Is business training effective? Are we successful in changing behaviour and improving business outcomes? And how do we support different types of entrepreneurs, e.g. traditional MSMEs vs. growth-oriented enterprises? This opening session will summarize lessons learnt and discuss the importance of segmentation in providing the right support and finance to different enterprise types

Knowledge Gifts

The following Knowledge Gifts will be presented during the Practitioners' Exchange:


How many MSMEs are out there?

What is the role of micro, small and medium sized enterprises in the economy? How do they contribute to innovation and productivity? What role do they play on labor markets and how important are they for employment?

Segmentation of entrepreneurs

Are different types of entrepreneurs in need for different support services and training? What kind of support is needed by traditional micro-entrepreneurs vs. growth-oriented enterprises? How can development practitioners work together with the different partner organizations to best promote the various type of entrepreneurs?

How effective is business management training?

What do we know from RCTs and studies about the effectiveness of business management training? Does business management training for MSMEs result in higher productivity, turn-over and/or increased employment creation? How do factors such as length of training, content of training and characteristics of training beneficiaries influence results of the training?

Combining training with other support services

What can be said about the effectiveness of combining business management training with other support services, such as coaching, mentoring and finance? What do we know about the effectiveness of coaching and mentoring through studies and RCTs? Is the approach to coaching different in rural vs in urban areas? Are there lessons for how to combine with finance out of past practices? How can coaching, mentoring and other services be delivered in a cost-effective and sustainable manner?

Promoting Gazelles for job creation

Should high-growth companies or “Gazelles” receive special attention from development practitioners? Is there evidence that demonstrates that promoting Gazelles leads to job creation and poverty reduction? How can we identify Gazelles early-on? What kind of specific support do Gazelles require? Does the content of business management training need to be altered to fit Gazelles specific needs?

Sustainability of training provision

How can development practitioners ensure financial, technical and institutional sustainability of business management training delivery? How to build the capacity of partner organizations in a way to ensure sustainable training delivery? What partner organizations should development practitioners work with to ensure sustainability? What can be said about the sustainability of public sector vs private sector driven training provision?

Developing the missing middle

Too many high-potential startups in emerging markets hit roadblocks to scale because they are unable to access the right kind of financing or can’t access the talent needed. How can development cooperation help to close this gap? What role can a blended finance approach play to overcome this critical stage?

Topic Hosts

Marlen de la Chaux - International Labour Organization (ILO)

Marlen is a technical officer for enterprise development and refugee livelihoods in the ILO’s Enterprises Department. She supports work to promote entrepreneurship, particularly the ILO’s Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) entrepreneurship training program, and works on the Approach to Inclusive Markets (AIMS) for refugees and host communities – an approach employing market systems development principles to foster economic opportunity for forcibly displaced.

Prior to joining the ILO, Marlen worked on entrepreneurship promotion in a variety of contexts, ranging from female micro-entrepreneurs in rural Burkina Faso, tech incubators in Nairobi, refugee entrepreneurs in East Africa to student founders in the UK. Marlen holds a PhD and MPhil in Management Studies from the University of Cambridge, UK. She speaks English, French, and German.

Merten Sievers - International Labour Organization (ILO)

Merten Sievers is the Value Chain Development and Entrepreneurship coordinator in ILOs Small and Medium Enterprises Unit. In his current position Merten is responsible for 14 people in 3 teams in the SME unit that manage: (i) the Start and Improve your Business entrepreneurship and management training programme:; (ii) ILOs work in Value Chain and Market Systems development, including the lab, a project on Market Systems development for Decent Work,;  and (iii) ILOs work Women’s Entrepreneurship Development, A fourth evolving thematic area is support to refugee and host community livelihoods under the new “Approach to Inclusive Markets”, jointly implemented with UNHCR and other partners Combined the team backstops more than 70% of ILOs technical cooperation activities in the area of market systems and enterprise development with activities in more than 70 countries. Merten speaks English, Spanish and German and has good working knowledge of French, Portuguese and Italian.

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