|Job Quality and Small Enterprise Development - Working Paper No. 4 (ILO, 1999, 35 p.)|
|4.0 Lessons from practical experience|
Increasing the capability of small and micro-enterprises, and their workers, to engage in collective solutions to the problems that individual enterprises (by virtue of their limited resources and scale) find difficult to achieve alone, is an important component of a quality enterprise development strategy. Thus, through associational activity, small enterprises can benefit from a range of business services. They can organise for the provision of social protection and welfare schemes, and can improve occupational safety and health standards. They can also increase their involvement in policy networks and social dialogue at the local area as well as at even higher levels.
There is evidence that employer and worker organisations are showing increasing interest in going beyond their traditional representative and bargaining roles. They are becoming more involved in developmental activities that add value to the economic development process. For example, an international survey carried out by the ILO three years ago found that the social partners expressed interest in providing developmental services to small enterprises and in becoming involved in regional development activities (ILO, 1997).
In industrialised countries, an example of a small firm association that has a strong developmental orientation is the Italian National Association of Artisans. This Association provides small artisan enterprises with a broad range of services that include both enterprise development services (such as consultancy services, access to finance, and training) as well as welfare and social services (such as pension and health schemes).
In developing countries, self-organisation by informal sector groups is said to be growing (Aryee, 1996). For example, a prominent case of a social protection scheme organised by a self-help association is that of the Self-Employed Womens Association (SEWA) in India. In the Philippines, Joshi (1997) reports on the existence of large self-help groups such as SAMA-SAMA, which could easily be used to increase awareness about working conditions, as well as carrying out other promotional and developmental activities. Trade unions also, are reported to be showing increased interest in representing the sector. For example, in the Philippines several trade unions have amended their constitutions to enable them to operate in the informal sector and to extend membership and services to those who work in it. Actions to extend membership and take initiatives in the informal sector have also been reported in Tanzania and Colombia (Aryee, 1996)