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Uruguayan Firm to Receive Award for Microenterprise Development

Inter-American Bank recognizes value of small businesses from four Latin American nations

Posted: August 26, 2005

Uruguay's CAMBADU received the Award for Excellence in Business Development Services.

The membership of this 100-year-old business association consists of thousands of small retailers in Uruguay.

Spurred by economic crises and the development of large supermarket chains, CAMBADU implemented an innovative program of business development services for its members, half of which are microentrepreneurs.

Among other activities, it offers its clients a wide range of tools used by large companies but tailored to small businesses, such as joint purchases to enhance bargaining power, monitoring prices charged by large chains, training courses, accounting services and other technical assistance to help clients manage their businesses, from feasibility analysis to poster design.

The associationís expenses are covered by membership dues and fees for services. Its vision consists of transforming a disparate, threatened sector into competitive, information-intensive modern small companies that capitalize on their close rapport with their customers.

(http://www.cambadu.com.uy/index1.html)

Washington -- The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in recognition of the valuable work being done by microenterprises, has announced it is honoring four of these small businesses from Mexico, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Uruguay.

In an August 24 statement, the IDB said it will present its annual awards for microenterprise development during the eighth Inter-American Forum on Microenterprise, to be held October 5-7 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The theme of the Santa Cruz forum is "Expanding the Frontiers of Microenterprise: The Commitment to Reach Everyone."

The IDB established its awards in 1999 to recognize outstanding contributions and innovations by leading institutions and individuals in the development of microenterprise, an economic sector that generates nearly half the jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

IDB President Enrique Iglesias said that the private sector, recognizing the "good business" that stems from microenterprise (locally owned businesses with up to 10 employees), has been steadily increasing its amount of investment in these small companies.

The IDB estimates that almost 200 financial institutions in 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean currently serve some 1.8 million microentrepreneurs, who have taken out loans totaling about $1.2 billion. The institutions range from nongovernmental organizations in remote rural areas to commercial banks in the region's major cities.

The winners of the 2005 IDB awards for microenterprise development are Financiera Compartamos of Mexico, a microfinance institution; Fondo de Desarrollo Local of Nicaragua, a nongovernmental organization; CAMBADU of Uruguay, a small business association; and social entrepreneur Julio Alem Rojo of Bolivia.

More information about the IDB award winners is available on the bank’s Web site.

The U.S. State Department said in its February 2004 electronic Journal that the Microenterprise for Self-Reliance Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2000, mandates that half of all microenterprise funds of the U.S. Agency for International Development go to the very poor, meaning those who live on less than $1 a day.

According to the journal, Microenterprise: Laying the Foundation for Economic Development, the U.S. government strategy for supporting microenterprises centers on policy and regulatory reforms that support conditions for business development, access to business-development services, and delivery of microfinance. The journal said that firms of five or fewer employees account for half of the nonfarm workforce in Latin America.

Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

 
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