Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Sub-principle 2.A

Focus on maximising sustainable development results


Why is it important?


Micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) engagement across projects typically tends to position small businesses as beneficiaries of development co-operation projects, rather than as active partners. MSMEs should fully integrate into development co-operation projects and become active partners to maximise sustainable development results. This means helping identify sectors, markets and populations in project design and participating in project delivery. This active engagement benefits MSMEs and, more broadly, given their presence in a wide range of value chains and roles in securing broad-based employment, there is potential to contribute to SDG results and generate relevant related data to monitor progress.

Self-reflection questions
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  • What avenues exist for you to share your local knowledge of the needs of marginalised populations with other development co-operation partners? To what degree can this inform and shape expectations and the planning of envisioned development results of development co-operation activities?
  • Have you clearly articulated your ambition of being an active partner in a development co-operation project rather than “only” being a beneficiary/client on the receiving end?
  • Is the value added and responsibility of each partner clarified from the outset? Have you made your own net value gain explicit? 
  • In the development co-operation projects in which you participate, do you consider the potential impact on the environment and the targeted communities, especially on women, children and other vulnerable groups?

Actions to consider
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  • Contribute to development co-operation projects by mobilising your knowledge of local sectors, markets and populations that are critical for development outcomes. This can help project partners refocus their interventions where they are the most impactful.
  • Understand and take advantage of the development co-operation services available to you beyond finance, including technical expertise, knowledge transfer and capacity building.

Pitfalls to avoid
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  • Engage in projects unprepared and unaware of how the partnership will affect your business’ goals and results. 
  • Commit yourself to sustainable development results without understanding the implications for your business.


Ushahidi is a social enterprise technology company that develops integrated tools and services to enable people to generate solutions and mobilise communities for good to promote transparency and accountability.

Awach SACCOS is a community-based co-operative from Ethiopia. Its mission is to improve socio-economic conditions by mobilising saving and creating access to credit and asset building through technology and taking social governance aspects into consideration. Its key objectives include facilitating fair credit, entrepreneurship through education, encouraging business to address environmental and social governance aspects, and reducing poverty through youth and female job creation. Awach SACCOS is improving the livelihood of more than 25 000 people by creating access to loans. Almost half of the beneficiaries are female. Most of the loans are used for housing, purchasing a vehicle, business expansion, purchasing assets and working capital for businesses.