Private Sector and Enterprise Development Fostering Growth in MENA

Private Sector and Enterprise Development; Fostering Growth in the Middle East and North Africa is a 2010 book published by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and written by Lois Stevenson, a Visiting Research Fellow at the IDRC in Cairo, Egypt.

The book is concerned with the context for private sector development (PSD) including micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs1), the PSD challenges and the relevant policy, institutional and research capacity, responses and needs in 12 MENA countries. It is aimed primarily at the policymaking, research and donor communities and other stakeholders involved in building capacity in PSD and SME policy development who are interested in the MENA region.

It provides an overview of the private sector development-related discourse and a conceptual framework of the policy components of private sector and enterprise development. It includes a discussion of donor PSD approaches, priorities and trends, the impact of PSD strategies and efforts on the inclusive, pro-poor growth of developing countries, and the challenges of measuring changes in the level of PSD performance. It describes the key social and economic growth challenges facing the MENA countries, such as employment creation, informality of enterprises and workers, education and skills, science and technology and innovation, global integration, gender equality and development of SMEs and entrepreneurship, all of which play a role in the context for PSD reform.

Chapter 4 focuses exclusively on SME development and entrepreneurship. It highlights the role and importance of the SME sector in PSD, and the SME policy approaches, strategies and implementation structures in the 12 MENA countries.

“The focus on entrepreneurship as a policy issue is not well developed in any of the MENA-12 countries. Although governments in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia have set targets for new enterprise creation in their national development plans and strategies and mandated agencies to achieve those targets, in general the support environment in the MENA- 12 countries is not sufficiently in place to facilitate the acceleration of entrepreneurial activity” (p. 102).

The book goes on to discusses the status of the MENA-12 countries in relationship to the market economy and the PSD environment, and presents an assessment of the PSD priorities and deficiencies and raises related policy, research and institutional capacity issues. I fairly detailed synopsis of the state of private sector and SME development in each of the countries reviewed is presented.

This is a useful resource book for anyone working on private sector and SME development in the MENA region. Entrepreneurship and innovation are framed entirely within these terms, which is a limitation. However, there is a lot of useful comparative information to be gleaned.