SCALA: Linking Vulnerable Youth and Women to Innovative Commercialization Networks
This project will test, generate, and share knowledge to promote business models that can generate economic opportunities for vulnerable youth and women. Challenges for micro-enterprises A large percentage of Latin America and the Caribbean's population has no choice but to survive on earnings from their micro-enterprises. Three-quarters of the region's entrepreneurs are micro-entrepreneurs, meaning they run small businesses that generally employ one or two people. Many of these small businesses fail, or exist on subsistence levels. There is an urgent need to test different business models for the region to unlock its entrepreneurial potential. This project will address the gap. Micro-franchises and social value The research team will use inclusive distribution networks, or micro-franchising, for this project. These are business models to commercialize products and services with social value, while generating stable and profitable business opportunities for low-income people. Micro-franchising is a tool designed specifically to help poor entrepreneurs reach economic self-reliance, providing the training they need to succeed. The Inter-American Development Bank's (IADB) Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) has supported projects that have tested this innovative approach to enhance vulnerable people's economic opportunities. The approach supports market studies that identify poor communities' demands. It also brings in private companies to fill those needs, non-governmental organizationsto provide business development services, and microfinance institutions (MFIs) to design financial services for these micro-enterprises. Project leadership IDRC, Citi Foundation, and IADB/MIF will collaborate through the SCALA initiative to bring these business models to scale, generating new economic opportunities for 25,000 vulnerable youth and women. IDRC will support SCALA-IDN, a resource centre to generate and disseminate knowledge, experiences, and results related to the models. Evidence about successful models and experiences is crucial to effectively engage companies, MFIs, and NGOs. The research will inform implementation and support the models' expansion regionally and globally.