Prospects for People Living in Poverty to Participate in Growth-Oriented Enterprises

Jeanne Frances I. Illo


The paper explores challenges and prospects for cooperatives in engaging the poor, particularly women, in so-called growth-oriented industries. It uses a local economic development model that includes social enterprises as well as household and informal economies, privileges meeting real and otherwise unmet needs of households and communities at the same time that it admits the links of local economies with global markets, and lays bare the totality and centrality of the work and economic enterprises of women living in poverty. As cooperatives seek to engage the market and broker the participation of the poor in growth-oriented enterprises, they face the daunting challenge of helping create sustainable livelihoods for women and men to make local economies grow. This will require balancing their multiple bottom lines (primarily profits and social goals), advocating for a policy environment that will work especially for women living in poverty, and linking with a private sector that is socially responsible.

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