European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org
Business Development Services and Small Business Growth in Bangladesh Mohammad Ahmed University of Dhaka, Bangladesh Abstract The study aimed at measuring the magnitude of business development services (BDS) and their impacts on the growth of the small businesses. Growth in equity capital, growth in production, growth in employment, growth in sales, and growth in profit were used as measures of small business growth. In order to collect the required primary data, the sampled 120 small entrepreneurs were interviewed with a semi-structured interview schedule. The hypotheses framed with regard to the impact, extent, and sources of BDS were tested by using chi-square statistic and t-statistic. The results of the study reveal a significant positive impact BDS on the small business growth in Bangladesh. The study also claims that small business growth relates linearly with the extensiveness of BDS and the growth of small businesses received BDS from public supporting institution is higher than that of the small businesses received BDS from private supporting institution. Keywords: Bangladesh, BDS, Growth, Small business.
1. Introduction In the 90's, the Committee of Donor Agencies for Small Enterprise Development (CDASED) coined the term ‘Business Development Services (BDS)’ to replace the term 'non-financial services’. The 2001 BDS guide defines BDS consisting of operational and strategic business services as: “Services that improve the performance of the enterprise, its access to markets, and its ability to compete.” Operational services refer to those services needed for day to day operations, such as information and communications, management of accounts and tax records, and other services. The strategic services are those services used by businesses to address medium and long term issues in order to improve business performance, market access, and competitiveness. According to McVay and Miehlbradt (2001), BDS refer to a wide array of services designed to address the non-financial constraints such as lack of education, inadequate technical skills, poor access to markets, lack of information and unreliable infrastructure. In a study, Goldmark (1996) stated that since the mid-1970s donor agencies in addition to the financial services have been providing the BDS in the forms of training, technology transfer, marketing assistance, business advice, mentoring, and information for entrepreneurial activities. These services have traditionally been called non-financial services and have generally been provided in packages along with other financial and non-financial services (Goldmark, 1996). Dawson and Jean (1998) and Dawson et al. (2002) explained BDS as a range of non financial services including training and skill development; technical and managerial assistance; developing, adapting and promoting new technology; assessing markets and giving market support; providing a physical infrastructure and advocating policy. Kahan (2006) defined BDS as the activities including group training, individual counseling and advice, the development of new commercial entities, technology development and transfer, information provision, business links and policy advocacy. Verspreet and Berlage's (1999) and Chrisman and McMullan (2004) observed that BDS to small businesses could take the form of measures designed to improve the overall business environment
European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org such as the regulatory framework and tax system, infrastructure development, and the provision of non-financial services. Manuh (1988) and Wren and Storey (2002) treated BDS as software including the provision of information and advice, counseling and consultancy, training and education, encouragement of partnership and gateway services. With respect to small business development, Carney (1998) made a classification of BDS into four different categories: physical (provision of infrastructure such as water, electricity and industrial sites); social (developing business linkages, networks, clusters, business associations and cooperatives); natural (promotion of the sustainable use of natural resources, recycling, pollution reduction and the waste disposal); and human capital (provision of training, advice, counseling, consultancy, entrepreneurship and business management). According to Ramsden and Bennett (2005) and Lambretch and Pirnay (2005) the BDS of many countries might fall into social and human capital assets. Businesses need an enormous range of services. Most of these are provided by the public and private supporting institutions such as Banks, Non-bank financial institutions, Non Government Organizations (NGOs), Corporations, etc. Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), an autonomous corporation under the Ministry of Industries of Bangladesh, with its industrial estates and training institute-Small & Cottage Industries Training Institute (SCITI), has been providing BDS for the development of small and cottage industries (SCI) in Bangladesh since 1957. Micro Industries Development Assistance and Services (MIDAS), a promotional organization in the private sector, was set up in 1982 with the objective of supporting the development of micro, small, and medium businesses in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, the BDS provided to the small businesses is comprised hardly of the physical or infrastructural support services. Most of the private agencies including MIDAS are putting more emphasis on the financial and human capitals. The following Table exhibits the types of BDS provided by BSCIC and MIDAS:
European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org Table 1: Business Development Services Provided by BSCIC and MIDAS Types of Development Services
Project proposal preparation & appraisal
Training (entrepreneurship development, marketing, finance, etc.)
Utility (power, gas, water, etc.) facility
Product design/ marketing
Pre and post investment counseling
Source: Compiled from the replies of the respondents and from annual reports. The definition of small business varies country to country and between times in the same country. In Bangladesh, there is no unique definition of small business. On 26 May 2008, the Agricultural Credit and Special Programs Department (ACSPD) of Bangladesh Bank in a circular (No.8) defined small business as shown in Table 2. Table 2: Definition of Small Business Given by Bangladesh Bank Criteria
Type of Business Fixed Assets
No. of Employee
(excluding land and building)
Tk. .05 million to Tk. 5 million
Tk. .05 million to Tk.15 million
Tk. .05 million to Tk. 5 million
Source: Bangladesh Bank Circular No.8, May 26, 2008
In measuring the business growth, Esim (2001) used a number of direct and indirect indicators. The direct business growth indicators, as he mentioned, were increase in net income, number of employees and quantities of inputs purchased, and products and services sold. Indirect business growth indicators, on the other hand, included increased access to formal sector services or access to information and extension services.
European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org In the context of the present study, BDS are defined as those non-financial services offered to small entrepreneurs at various stages for the entry, survival, and growth of their businesses. Growth refers to the gradual development of enterprises. After start-up enterprises start growing in terms of operations. Five measures of small business growth were also employed in the study: growth in equity, growth in production, growth in employment; growth in sales; and growth in profit. Average growth in equity capital was calculated as follows:
Amount of equity capital in 2010 âˆ’ Amount of equity capital when received services No. of years the services were used The average growths of other measures were calculated as above using respective figures.
2. Review of Previous Studies Over the last decade, the small enterprise development servicesâ€”especially financial services for women in the form of credit and savingsâ€”have gained prominence around the world. These services have increasingly been provided on a cost-effective basis by financially sustainable institutions. Yet, people working in the field of small enterprise development recognize that financial services have not resulted in business growth for small businesses. A recent USAID review of 32 research and evaluation reports suggests that few businesses with financial services experience sustained growth, while a majority grows a little and then even out (Sebstad and Chen, 1996). In another cross-country study, Hulme and Mosley (1996) report that credit did not trigger growth in terms of an increase in technical sophistication, output or employment. While some employment growth is observed among family members of borrowers, the employment impact outside the family has been small (Dawson and Jeans, 1997). In the continuing search for stimulating business growth among small businesses, small enterprise development specialists increasingly turn to BDS. Tecson, Valcareel, & Nunez (1989) identified a low but positive relationship among total sales, productivity, and support services received from government supporting institutions. Using multiple regressions, it was reported that profitability was determined by take-up of government support among other factors. In their studies in Bangladesh, Mannan (1993); Mahiuddin et al. (1998); Rahman & Jamal (2001); Karim (2001); Rahman (2002); Ahmed (2003); Jahur & Azad (2004); Mintoo (2006:27); and Islam (2010) found that the growth of small businesses are constrained by factors such as low levels of education, lack of business knowledge & experience, marketing problems, administrative obligations, lack of information, weak infrastructure, etc. BDS aim to address these constraints through training, consulting, marketing services, business information, promotion of business to business linkages, and other non-financial services. The studies of Van (1998) indicate that the small-scale businesses (SSE) would prosper if they are supported by BDS focusing on the peculiar problems of SSE. The use of BDS has been recognized by both academics and policy makers as one of the methods which can be used to improve the performance of small businesses (Bennett and Robson, 1999; Massey, 2003; Chrisman and McMullan, 2004; and Ramsden and Bennett, 2005). However, there are other researchers who have found
European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org little or no evidence between the use of BDS and the performance of small businesses (Storey, 1994; Manu, 1999; Hjalmarsson and Johansson, 2003; Mambula, 2004). BDS can help micro businesses solve their problems by facilitating access to markets, improving the availability of less expensive or higher quality inputs, introducing new or improved technologies and products, improving management and technical skills, ameliorating or eliminating policy constraints,
businesses access appropriate financing mechanisms (Esim, 2001). Netswera (2001) argued that the systematic external support services provided by the governments to the small businesses had played a significant role in the rapid growth of the economies in the South-East Asian countries such as the South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Saleh (1995) found most of the selected women entrepreneurs with small business management training and without prior experience and formal education in business, became successful in small business management and many of them were successful in terms of sales, profitability and number of employees. He urged the supporting institutions to provide the women entrepreneurs with special counseling so that they could overcome their problems. The results of the study made by Rosa (1997) showed that the businesses received support services experienced significantly higher growth in sales, employment, and productivity. The better performance of the supported businesses might well be attributable to the supports received by those businesses because the groups compared were matched in terms of employment size, nature of business, ownership type, and production processes employed. The study revealed an overall significant difference between the performance of small businesses receiving limited support services and small businesses receiving extensive support services. The study, however, failed to conclude that the better performance of the supported businesses is the result of support services only. In examining the effectiveness of support services of non government organizations (NGOs) for the promotion of micro businesses, Mia (2000) found NGOsâ€™ BDS ineffective in generating business ideas, validating business ideas and developing commitment. While the financial and BDS were considered together, the support services were found effective in promoting micro businesses. He, therefore, urged the NGOs to provide full package of sufficient financial and required BDS after assessing their promotional need at various phases of promotion. Most of the studies conducted earlier focused on the importance of the BDS. No specific studies were carried out on the comparative assessment of the small business growth in Bangladesh caused by different volume and sources of BDS. The present study is an attempt to abridge the gap.
3. Research Hypotheses Based on the literature review and subject to the objectives of the study, the following hypotheses were formulated and tested: Hypothesis 1:
Business development services have a significant positive impact on small business
European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org growth; Hypothesis 2:
The growth of small businesses received extensive business development services is significantly higher than that of the businesses received limited business development services; and
The growth of small businesses received business development services from public supporting institution is significantly higher than that of the businesses supported by private supporting institution.
4. Study Objectives The primary objective of this paper was to assess the role of BDS in the growth of small businesses in Bangladesh. To achieve this objective, the study also pursued the following secondary objectives: (i)
To explore the types of BDS provided by the selected supporting institutions;
To determine the degree to which BDS are associated with small business growth; and
To measure the extent of small business growth due to the magnitude and sources of BDS.
5. Study Materials and Methods The present study was descriptive in nature. The procedures followed in carrying out the study were as follows: 5.1 Types and Sources of Data The types of data used in the study covered both primary and secondary data. The sources of primary data used in the study were the owners, partners, and managing directors of the sample businesses. The sources of secondary data comprised of books, articles, journals, annual reports, website, unpublished PhD theses, research reports, and other publications. 5.2 Data Collection Instrument An interview schedule was prepared and used as an instrument of collecting primary data from the sample entrepreneurs. For assessing the validity, the content validity in particular, the interview schedule was given final shape by (i) reviewing related literature extensively; (ii) taking opinion from research experts; and (iii) conducting pilot surveys on 15 entrepreneurs (not included in the sample). Primary data were collected by faceto-face interview and telephone interview methods. Secondary data were amassed by desk research by using different websites and libraries. 5.3 Sampling Design In Bangladesh, there is no up-to-date baseline information on the total number of supporting institutions and their supported small businesses. It was, therefore, difficult to select a suitable sampling frame and sample. Shepherd and Zacharakis (1999) suggest as a rule of thumb that a sample size greater than 50 is normally sufficient. In the present study, a total of 120 small entrepreneurs from 6 districts of 2 divisions, who took BDS
European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org from the leading two supporting institutions-BSCIC and MIDAS, constituted the sample. The sample of respondents was selected using multi-stage random sampling technique. In Bangladesh, the absence of representative sample in small business research is a major impetus to data. None of the earlier Bangladeshi studies (Begum, 1993; Saleh, 1995; Kabir, 2004; and other studies) examined the representativeness of their samples. The research findings, however, were indiscriminately generalized to all small businesses in the country. In the present study, the number of population is infinite. The extent of representativeness, therefore, can not be examined by using a chi-square goodness of fit test. However, as the nature and activities of the sample small businesses were almost similar to those of the homogeneous small businesses all over Bangladesh, the results found in the study could be generalized.
5.4 Data Processing and Analysis
The collected data were verified to ensure that the respondents answered all relevant questions and that no answers were missing. The values of the variables were coded by numerical figures and the numerical coded numbers were given input for analysis of the data using personal computer. Data were then analyzed by using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS), version 11.5, developed by Nie et al. (1975). The hypotheses framed with regard to the impact, extent, and sources of BDS were tested by using the non-parametric and parametric statistical tools-chi-square statistic and t-statistic.
6. Results and Discussion This section deals with evaluating the role of the selected supporting institutions’ BDS on small business growth in Bangladesh. 6.1 Hypothesis Testing-Impact of BDS on Small Business Growth Hypothesis 1: Business development services have a significant positive impact on small business growth. Table 3: Business Development Services and Small Business Growth Small Business Growth Variables
Growth in Equity χ
Business development services
Growth in Production 2
Growth in Employment 2
Growth in Sales 2
Growth in Profit 2
Note: N.S means not significant Source: Field Survey during May to December 2010.
The results (χ2 value and p value) prove that BDS had a significant positive impact on the growth of equity capital, production, sales, and profit. The results, however, disclose that statistically there existed no impact of
European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org BDS on the growth in employment, as evidenced by p value. The result became so because the BDS especially the training enabled the entrepreneurs to improve their business efficiency and production process from manual to automation. The hypothesis that BDS have a significant positive impact on small business growth is, therefore, partially accepted. 6.2 Hypothesis Testing-Growth Performance between Businesses Received Extensive BDS and Businesses Received Limited BDS The sample small businesses, received BDS including training, were divided into two groups. The first group consisted of the businesses received at best 3 BDS (limited) of the listed 12 services (see Table 1) and another group which received at least 4 BDS (extensive). Hypothesis 2: The growth of small businesses received extensive business development services is significantly higher than that of the businesses received limited business development services. Table 4: Test for Significance of Differences between the Growth Performances of Businesses Received Extensive BDS and Businesses Received Limited BDS Growth Measures
Value of LBDS
t â€“ statistic
Growth in equity (million Tk.)
Growth in production (million unit)
Growth in employment (unit)
Growth in sales (million Tk.)
Growth in profit (million Tk.)
Businesses received extensive BDS.
Businesses received limited BDS. ** Significant at the 0.01 level * Significant at the 0.10 level
Table 4 shows that the businesses received extensive BDS achieved significantly higher growth in equity and production than the businesses received limited BDS. The data in the Table also shows that the businesses which received extensive BDS attained higher growth in employment, sales, and profit compared to that of the businesses which got limited BDS. In the study, Sarder (2000:230) found that extensive assistance seems to have a significant effect on growth in sales and employment. The finding above has significant policy implication for the small business sector. It can be said that by offering more BDS, the equity capital and production can be increased in the small business sector as significant differences were evident in equity and production growth in the above analysis. Thus, the hypothesis that the growth of small businesses received extensive BDS is significantly higher than that of the businesses received limited BDS, was partially accepted.
European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org 6.3 Hypothesis Testing-Growth between Public and Private Institutions Supported Businesses
The sample businesses were divided into two groups. The first group consisted of the businesses which received BDS from BSCIC- a public supporting institution, while another group of businesses received BDS from MIDAS- a private supporting institution. To examine if there was any significant difference in the growth performance between these two groups of businesses, the following hypothesis was tested:
Hypothesis 3: The growth in the performance of small businesses received support services from public supporting institution is significantly higher than that of the businesses supported by private supporting institution.
Table 5: Test for Significance of Differences in Growth Performance between Public and Private Institutions Supported Businesses Mean
Growth in equity (million Tk.)
Growth in production (million unit)
Growth in employment (unit)
Growth in sales (million Tk.)
Growth in profit (million Tk.)
Businesses received BDS from public supporting institution. Businesses received BDS from private supporting institution.
** Significant at the 0.01 level * Significant at the 0.05 level
The results of testing the hypothesis are presented in Table 5. The hypothesis was accepted since the businesses supported by public supporting institution achieved significantly higher growth in almost all growth measures than the businesses supported by private supporting institution. In particular, the businesses those received BDS from public supporting institution achieved significantly higher growth in equity capital, production, sales, and profit compared to the businesses those received BDS from private supporting institution. The public supporting institution supported businesses accomplished higher growth in employment but not significant. The findings, therefore, suggest that the BDS, offered by the public sector supporting institution, seemed to be more effective than that of the private supporting institution. This result is quite reverse of the
European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org result of the study of Sarder (2000:234). The reasons for high growth of public institution supported businesses (mostly manufacturing) might be that these businesses had higher start-up capital, business plot in the industrial area, conducive environment, registration facilities, infrastructural facilities including gas, power, water, drainage, etc. with low service charge, local and international training, motivation, etc.
Conclusions The growth of an existing business may depend on different factors including the profiles of the entrepreneurs and their businesses and the BDS. But the present study was limited to BDS only. It is, therefore, difficult to establish whether the growth of supported small businesses is due to the direct effects on BDS only. However, based on the overall findings of the present study, the following conclusions can be drawn: 1.
In Bangladesh, supporting institutionsâ€™ BDS played a significant positive role in the growth of small business except its employment growth. The increased volume of production requires more employees but due to the technological improvement and for being trained by the entrepreneurs and their employees, the employment growth was not significantly occurred.
In terms of extensiveness of BDS, extensive support services seemed to be more effective than limited support services. The study concludes that the greater the extent of BDS, the higher the financial growth of the supported businesses. However, the BDS relating to the marketing of products and services are to be provided more to increase the sales.
The public supporting institution supported businesses, with start-up and growth services including industrial sheds and infrastructural supports, achieved significantly higher growth in all selected growth measures than that of the businesses supported by the private supporting institution.
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