New Reports Provide Strategies to Support Small Businesses through Coronavirus Crisis

TechnoServe’s resources highlight digital training and other methods to help enterprises in developing countries

Arlington, VA (April 2, 2020) — In response to the coronavirus pandemic and the threat it poses to the survival of micro, small, and medium-sized businesses in developing countries, global nonprofit TechnoServe this week published two resources, The Coronavirus and Entrepreneurs in the Developing World: Learning to Support Businesses in Crisis and Supporting Entrepreneurs with Digital Tools: How to Make Remote Learning Impactful. Both publications provide research and guidance on more effectively supporting small businesses as they face the economic consequences of the pandemic.

Micro, small, and medium-sized businesses provide essential goods, services, and job opportunities across the developing world. Businesses with fewer than 50 workers account for more than 80% of employment across Latin America, Africa, and South Asia, for example. However, the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing, lockdowns, curfews, and other measures that accompany it threaten the survival of these vital businesses. 

The Coronavirus and Entrepreneurs in the Developing World: Learning to Support Businesses in Crisis provides practical lessons from TechnoServe’s past experiences working with businesses during crises, as well as early insights from the coronavirus pandemic. It outlines TechnoServe’s three-step framework for supporting entrepreneurs through the crisis:

  1. Reset the goal to business survival
  2. Adapt the program to the new needs of entrepreneurs during the crisis
  3. Engage the ecosystem to foster cooperation and learning

As travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders have made it more difficult to provide in-person training to entrepreneurs, it has become increasingly important to find effective ways to provide support remotely. Supporting Entrepreneurs with Digital Tools: How to Make Remote Learning Impactful, developed in partnership with the Vitol Foundation, draws from interviews with entrepreneurs in Africa and Latin America to provide a framework for successful remote-learning initiatives. It highlights four key principles for remote program design:

  • Access
  • Credibility
  • Connection
  • Commitment

“The situation might seem really dire for many entrepreneurs right now, but we know that effective support can help a business keep its doors open. During a recent crisis in Nicaragua, for example, our programs helped reduce the rate of business failure by two-thirds,” said Juan Carlos Thomas, TechnoServe’s global entrepreneurship director. “That’s why we wanted to share our insights and contribute to the entrepreneurship ecosystem’s efforts to address this crisis.”

“Remote learning is an incredibly important tool—not only in a crisis like the current coronavirus pandemic, but also to increase the scale of our impact and reach more entrepreneurs,” said Dave Hale, director of TechnoServe Labs, the organization’s initiative to identify, test, and implement promising technologies to deliver market-based solutions to poverty. “At TechnoServe, we’re dedicated to not only harnessing this technology in our own programs, but also to helping other organizations use it as well.”


About TechnoServe

TechnoServe is a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. A nonprofit organization operating in 29 countries, we work with enterprising men and women in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries. By linking people to information, capital and markets, we have helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities.

Founded over 50 years ago, TechnoServe has been named the #1 nonprofit for fighting poverty by the ImpactMatters charity ratings agency.