n African Journal of Business and Economic Research - Trade and traders : a dynamic factor in the small- and micro-enterprise sector in Kenya and other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa

Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1750-4554
  • E-ISSN: 1750-4562


Small-scale enterprises have been recognised to play an important role in the economies of Kenya and other African countries. However, although more than half of these enterprises are usually engaged in trading, and contribute substantially to the national distribution system, small- enterprise development policies in these countries have, most often, targeted producers only. The activities of small-scale traders have generally been seen as unproductive and with no positive role to play in the economic development process. This paper looks at this paradox and investigates the role of traders in the small-scale enterprise sector and in the development process. The investigation suggests that small-scale trade plays a much larger role in economic development than usually recognised. The lack of concern for or even suppression of small-scale traders, which has been, and still is, common in Eastern and Southern Africa, seems to be a major constraint for economic development. Small traders represent an important part of the distribution system reaching out into the low-income urban and rural areas. Through them, important capital and labour resources are mobilised, resources which the formal economy is unable to mobilise.

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