Small and medium scale businesses are the unsung heroes of most economies. They often form economic backbones in both developed and developing countries, providing much needed employment, as well as essential services most of us could not manage without.
Getting down and dirty
One reason small businesses are overlooked is because of their informality. Taking the example of a repair shop, Volvo truck repairs and good smash repairs can be done at a large, multinational company, or it can be done at a smaller shop in your locality. Small businesses like these are overlooked because they may be family businesses, where instead of formally employing workers, family members are the main employees. This often allows for greater flexibility in working hours and can mean that family members can work while studying, or maybe even have a second job. The advantages are numerous, as additional costs of overtime and providing pension/retirement schemes are not included. This allows small businesses to contribute more to the family income, albeit at a social cost.
Female labour force participation
Small businesses are a main entry point into the work force for many women. The informality has its pros and cons. The pros are that a disposable income increases female empowerment and creates agency, and it is also a way for women to balance duties of care with employment. These are benefits which cannot be overlooked. On the other hand, there are significant disadvantages. Informality means that there is little to no job security, and women are less likely to progress up the employment ladder than men in small businesses are.
While it would be unusual to see a small business advertising for something like kenworth truck repairs Brisbane a general repair shop, run by a local mechanic would often be the only affordable option for many people. In addition, small businesses help the community by providing local jobs, and developing skills and employability in small towns and villages that may easily be overlooked by large corporates. Even though they are a life line for many, a lot of small businesses struggle to make ends meet. Informality comes with its negatives and can often mean that they are overlooked when it comes to overall economic policy, loan schemes and other forms of business incentives and assistance.
Recognition is key
Given their immense, and invaluable contribution to the economy, and the role they play in creating local employment it is time they were recognized and adequately assistance. At this point, assistance would not be a case of altruism, but instead would be a step towards the survival of the economy as a whole.