Trickle-Down, Trickle-Up or Puddle? Participatory Value Chains Analysis for Pro-Poor Enterprise Development

The main focus of the paper is on the potential contributions of one modelling and analytical tool in the context of pro-poor enterprise development – value chains analysis used as part of a participatory assessment process. The paper begins by considering pro-poor enterprise development in a globalised world and argues that such development not only has the potential for trickle-down, ensuring that the benefits of economic growth are more equally distributed, but also has the potential for trickle-up and the stimulation of economic growth. It states also that there is increasing consensus that there is no ‘magic bullet’ for pro-poor growth, but instead points to the need for a range of strategies at different levels.

The paper notes that participatory value chain analysis was initially developed for academic research to understand processes of globalisation and industrialisation. In particular researchers are interested in understanding why many of the potential benefits of globalisation fail to reach the very poor, why particular countries and particular types of enterprise find it difficult to enter certain sectors and the macro level policy implications. As well as providing a practical guide to value chains analysis, this paper focuses on the ways in which value chains action can be used as part of a suitable participatory process for strategic learning and ongoing accountability within and between enterprise sectors.

The second section of the paper discusses participatory value chains analysis in more detail and, in particular, considers the underlying principles, key stages, potential users as well as practical guidelines. Within this, the potential for integrating gender analysis is also considered. The final section of the paper then looks at the possibility of moving from participatory analysis to the empowerment process. It notes that despite its shortcomings, the former does have considerable potential as a focus for setting up ongoing structures for accountability and empowerment as part of a participatory and sustainable learning process.

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