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My Business Pays Me: Labourers and Entrepreneurs Among the Self-Employed Poor in Latin America
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-16, 19:04 authored by Eversole, R
Are the independent economic activities of poor people "petty commodity production"-an informal way to earn a subsistence wage? Or are they "microentrepreneurship", a launching point for capital accumulation and growth? This paper draws on fieldwork in Bolivia, Peru and Guatemala, focusing specifically on the poorest businesses. In-depth interviews indicate that even the smallest-scale producers, merchants and service providers have goals of "improving" their business and "growing" their capital, not unlike their capitalist counterparts. Yet, while growth is desirable, maintaining one's business as a steady source of income is a sufficient achievement for many. Poor self-employed people are both "labourers" and "entrepreneurs"; the key macro-level question becomes, not "Do petty-commodity producers have different goals than capitalist entrepreneurs", but "What resources are lacking, and what obstacles exist, that keep many microentrepreneurs in low-yeild activities, with little opportunity to grow their resources?".
Publication titleBulletin of Latin American Research
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd.
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom