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  • 1. European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.13 2012 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 Business Development Services and Small Business Growth in Bangladesh Mohammad Ahmed Hossein Canadian International Development AgencyAbstractThe study aimed at measuring the magnitude of business development services (BDS) and their impacts on thegrowth of the small businesses. Growth in equity capital, growth in production, growth in employment, growth insales, and growth in profit were used as measures of small business growth. In order to collect the requiredprimary 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-squarestatistic and t-statistic. The results of the study reveal a significant positive impact BDS on the small businessgrowth in Bangladesh. The study also claims that small business growth relates linearly with the extensivenessof BDS and the growth of small businesses received BDS from public supporting institution is higher than that ofthe small businesses received BDS from private supporting institution.Keywords: Bangladesh, BDS, Growth, Small business.1. Introduction In the 90s, the Committee of Donor Agencies for Small Enterprise Development (CDASED) coined theterm ‘Business Development Services (BDS)’ to replace the term non-financial services’. The 2001 BDS guidedefines BDS consisting of operational and strategic business services as: “Services that improve the performanceof the enterprise, its access to markets, and its ability to compete.” Operational services refer to those servicesneeded for day to day operations, such as information and communications, management of accounts and taxrecords, and other services. The strategic services are those services used by businesses to address medium andlong 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 thenon-financial constraints such as lack of education, inadequate technical skills, poor access to markets, lack ofinformation and unreliable infrastructure. In a study, Goldmark (1996) stated that since the mid-1970s donoragencies in addition to the financial services have been providing the BDS in the forms of training, technologytransfer, marketing assistance, business advice, mentoring, and information for entrepreneurial activities. Theseservices have traditionally been called non-financial services and have generally been provided in packagesalong with other financial and non-financial services (Goldmark, 1996). Dawson and Jean (1998) and Dawson etal. (2002) explained BDS as a range of non financial services including training and skill development; technicaland managerial assistance; developing, adapting and promoting new technology; assessing markets and givingmarket support; providing a physical infrastructure and advocating policy. Kahan (2006) defined BDS as the activities including group training, individual counseling and advice, thedevelopment of new commercial entities, technology development and transfer, information provision, businesslinks and policy advocacy. Verspreet and Berlages (1999) and Chrisman and McMullan (2004) observed that 1
  • 2. European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.13 2012 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.orgBDS to small businesses could take the form of measures designed to improve the overall business environmentsuch as the regulatory framework and tax system, infrastructure development, and the provision of non-financialservices. Manuh (1988) and Wren and Storey (2002) treated BDS as software including the provision ofinformation and advice, counseling and consultancy, training and education, encouragement of partnership andgateway services. With respect to small business development, Carney (1998) made a classification of BDS into four differentcategories: physical (provision of infrastructure such as water, electricity and industrial sites); social (developingbusiness linkages, networks, clusters, business associations and cooperatives); natural (promotion of thesustainable use of natural resources, recycling, pollution reduction and the waste disposal); and human capital(provision of training, advice, counseling, consultancy, entrepreneurship and business management). Accordingto Ramsden and Bennett (2005) and Lambretch and Pirnay (2005) the BDS of many countries might fall intosocial and human capital assets. Businesses need an enormous range of services. Most of these are provided by the public and privatesupporting institutions such as Banks, Non-bank financial institutions, Non Government Organizations (NGOs),Corporations, etc. Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), an autonomous corporationunder 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 andcottage 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 supportingthe development of micro, small, and medium businesses in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, the BDS provided to thesmall businesses is comprised hardly of the physical or infrastructural support services. Most of the privateagencies including MIDAS are putting more emphasis on the financial and human capitals. The following Tableexhibits the types of BDS provided by BSCIC and MIDAS: Table 1: Business Development Services Provided by BSCIC and MIDAS Types of Development Services BSCIC MIDAS Project identification √ √ Feasibility study √ √ Registration facility √ - Industrial plots/land/shed √ - Project proposal preparation & appraisal √ √ Training (entrepreneurship development, marketing, finance, etc.) √ √ Utility (power, gas, water, etc.) facility √ - Technical/market information √ √ Product design/ marketing √ √ Pre and post investment counseling √ √ 2
  • 3. European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.13 2012 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 Credit arrangement √ √ Motivation √ - 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. InBangladesh, there is no unique definition of small business. On 26 May 2008, the Agricultural Credit andSpecial Programs Department (ACSPD) of Bangladesh Bank in a circular (No.8) defined small business asshown in Table 2. Table 2: Definition of Small Business Given by Bangladesh Bank Type of Business Criteria Fixed Assets No. of Employee (excluding land and building) (full time) Trading Tk. .05 million to Tk. 5 million Maximum 25 Manufacturing Tk. .05 million to Tk.15 million Maximum 50 Service Tk. .05 million to Tk. 5 million Maximum 25 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 directbusiness growth indicators, as he mentioned, were increase in net income, number of employees and quantitiesof 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. In the context of the present study, BDS are defined as those non-financial services offered to smallentrepreneurs at various stages for the entry, survival, and growth of their businesses. Growth refers to thegradual development of enterprises. After start-up enterprises start growing in terms of operations. Fivemeasures 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 asfollows: Amount of equity capital in 2010 − Amount of equity capital when received services No. of years the services were usedThe 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 services—especially financial services for women inthe form of credit and savings—have gained prominence around the world. These services have increasinglybeen provided on a cost-effective basis by financially sustainable institutions. Yet, people working in the field ofsmall enterprise development recognize that financial services have not resulted in business growth for small 3
  • 4. European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.13 2012 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.orgbusinesses. A recent USAID review of 32 research and evaluation reports suggests that few businesses withfinancial services experience sustained growth, while a majority grows a little and then even out (Sebstad andChen, 1996). In another cross-country study, Hulme and Mosley (1996) report that credit did not trigger growth in termsof an increase in technical sophistication, output or employment. While some employment growth is observedamong family members of borrowers, the employment impact outside the family has been small (Dawson andJeans, 1997). In the continuing search for stimulating business growth among small businesses, small enterprisedevelopment 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 thatthe growth of small businesses are constrained by factors such as low levels of education, lack of businessknowledge & experience, marketing problems, administrative obligations, lack of information, weakinfrastructure, 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 studiesof Van (1998) indicate that the small-scale businesses (SSE) would prosper if they are supported by BDSfocusing 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 canbe used to improve the performance of small businesses (Bennett and Robson, 1999; Massey, 2003; Chrismanand McMullan, 2004; and Ramsden and Bennett, 2005). However, there are other researchers who have foundlittle 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 theavailability of less expensive or higher quality inputs, introducing new or improved technologies and products,improving management and technical skills, ameliorating or eliminating policy constraints, and helpingbusinesses access appropriate financing mechanisms (Esim, 2001). Netswera (2001) argued that the systematicexternal support services provided by the governments to the small businesses had played a significant role in therapid growth of the economies in the South-East Asian countries such as the South Korea, Taiwan, and HongKong. Saleh (1995) found most of the selected women entrepreneurs with small business management training andwithout prior experience and formal education in business, became successful in small business management andmany of them were successful in terms of sales, profitability and number of employees. He urged the supportinginstitutions to provide the women entrepreneurs with special counseling so that they could overcome theirproblems. 4
  • 5. European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.13 2012 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 The results of the study made by Rosa (1997) showed that the businesses received support servicesexperienced significantly higher growth in sales, employment, and productivity. The better performance of thesupported businesses might well be attributable to the supports received by those businesses because the groupscompared were matched in terms of employment size, nature of business, ownership type, and productionprocesses employed. The study revealed an overall significant difference between the performance of smallbusinesses receiving limited support services and small businesses receiving extensive support services. Thestudy, however, failed to conclude that the better performance of the supported businesses is the result of supportservices only. In examining the effectiveness of support services of non government organizations (NGOs) for thepromotion of micro businesses, Mia (2000) found NGOs’ 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 toprovide full package of sufficient financial and required BDS after assessing their promotional need at variousphases of promotion. Most of the studies conducted earlier focused on the importance of the BDS. No specific studies werecarried out on the comparative assessment of the small business growth in Bangladesh caused by differentvolume 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 wereformulated and tested: Hypothesis 1: Business development services have a significant positive impact on small business 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 Hypothesis 3: 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 inBangladesh. 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; (ii) To determine the degree to which BDS are associated with small business growth; and (iii) To measure the extent of small business growth due to the magnitude and sources of BDS. 5
  • 6. European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.13 2012 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org5. Study Materials and Methods The present study was descriptive in nature. The procedures followed in carrying out the study were asfollows: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 dataused in the study were the owners, partners, and managing directors of the sample businesses. The sources ofsecondary data comprised of books, articles, journals, annual reports, website, unpublished PhD theses, researchreports, and other publications.5.2 Data Collection Instrument An interview schedule was prepared and used as an instrument of collecting primary data from the sampleentrepreneurs. For assessing the validity, the content validity in particular, the interview schedule was given finalshape 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 face-to-face interview and telephone interview methods. Secondary data were amassed by desk research by usingdifferent websites and libraries.5.3 Sampling Design In Bangladesh, there is no up-to-date baseline information on the total number of supporting institutions andtheir 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 normallysufficient. In the present study, a total of 120 small entrepreneurs from 6 districts of 2 divisions, who took BDSfrom the leading two supporting institutions-BSCIC and MIDAS, constituted the sample. The sample ofrespondents was selected using multi-stage random sampling technique. In Bangladesh, the absence ofrepresentative sample in small business research is a major impetus to data. None of the earlier Bangladeshistudies (Begum, 1993; Saleh, 1995; Kabir, 2004; and other studies) examined the representativeness of theirsamples. The research findings, however, were indiscriminately generalized to all small businesses in thecountry. 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 thesample 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 noanswers were missing. The values of the variables were coded by numerical figures and the numerical codednumbers were given input for analysis of the data using personal computer. Data were then analyzed by using 6
  • 7. European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.13 2012 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.orgStatistical Package for Social Science (SPSS), version 11.5, developed by Nie et al. (1975). The hypothesesframed with regard to the impact, extent, and sources of BDS were tested by using the non-parametric andparametric 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 businessgrowth in Bangladesh.6.1 Hypothesis Testing-Impact of BDS on Small Business GrowthHypothesis 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 Growth in Growth in Growth in Growth in Equity Production Employment Sales Profit 2 2 2 2 2 χ p χ p χ p χ p χ p value value value value value value value value value value Business 4.694 <.05 4.143 <.05 1.242 N.S 5.267 <.05 2.818 <.10 development servicesNote: N.S means not significantSource: 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 equitycapital, production, sales, and profit. The results, however, disclose that statistically there existed no impact ofBDS on the growth in employment, as evidenced by p value. The result became so because the BDS especiallythe training enabled the entrepreneurs to improve their business efficiency and production process from manualto 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 BusinessesReceived Limited BDS The sample small businesses, received BDS including training, were divided into two groups. The firstgroup consisted of the businesses received at best 3 BDS (limited) of the listed 12 services (see Table 1) andanother 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. 7
  • 8. European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.13 2012 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 Table 4: Test for Significance of Differences between the Growth Performances of Businesses Received Extensive BDS and Businesses Received Limited BDS Growth Measures Mean Value of d.f p 1 2 EBDS LBDS t – statistic valueGrowth in equity (million Tk.) 0.56 0.23 2.753** 49.649 .008Growth in production (million unit) 0.13 0.01 1.878* 85.904 .064Growth in employment (unit) 1.15 0.62 1.042 16.890 .315Growth in sales (million Tk.) 1.50 0.76 0.931 25.778 .361Growth in profit (million Tk.) 0.09 0.03 1.036 81.894 .3001 Businesses received extensive BDS.2 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 equityand production than the businesses received limited BDS. The data in the Table also shows that the businesseswhich received extensive BDS attained higher growth in employment, sales, and profit compared to that of thebusinesses which got limited BDS. In the study, Sarder (2000:230) found that extensive assistance seems to havea significant effect on growth in sales and employment. The finding above has significant policy implication forthe small business sector. It can be said that by offering more BDS, the equity capital and production can beincreased in the small business sector as significant differences were evident in equity and production growth inthe above analysis. Thus, the hypothesis that the growth of small businesses received extensive BDS issignificantly higher than that of the businesses received limited BDS, was partially accepted.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 whichreceived BDS from BSCIC- a public supporting institution, while another group of businesses received BDSfrom MIDAS- a private supporting institution. To examine if there was any significant difference in the growthperformance 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. 8
  • 9. European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.13 2012 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 Table 5: Test for Significance of Differences in Growth Performance between Public and Private Institutions Supported Businesses Growth Measures Mean Value of d.f p t-statistic value 1 2 PuSI PrSIGrowth in equity (million Tk.) 0.46 0.10 5.168** 103.91 .000Growth in production (million unit) 0.13 0.01 2.118* 90.23 .037Growth in employment (unit) 0.69 0.63 0.193 46.50 .847Growth in sales (million Tk.) 1.85 0.26 3.472** 117.13 .001Growth in profit (million Tk.) 0.11 0.03 0.940* 103.62 .0491 Businesses received BDS from public supporting institution.2 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 thebusinesses supported by public supporting institution achieved significantly higher growth in almost all growthmeasures than the businesses supported by private supporting institution. In particular, the businesses thosereceived 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 notsignificant. 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 theresult 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 industrialarea, 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 theentrepreneurs 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: 9
  • 10. European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.13 2012 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687 www.BellPress.org1. In Bangladesh, supporting institutions’ 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.2. 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.3. 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.ReferencesACSPD (2008). Agricultural credit and special programs department, Bangladesh Bank, Circular No. 8, May 26.Ahmed, M.U. (2003). The small and medium enterprises (SME) in Bangladesh: An overview of the current status. Retrieved from, R. (1993). Factors affecting growth of women entrepreneurship in Bangladesh. Dhaka University Journal of Business Studies, 14(2), 99-106.Bennett, R. J. & Robson, P. J. A. (1999). The use of external business advice by SMEs in Britain. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 11 (2), 155-180.Carney, D. (1998). Sustainable rural livelihoods. What contribution can we make? London.Chrisman, J. J. & McMullan, W. D. (2004). Outsider assistance as a knowledge resource for new venture survival. Journal of Small Business Management, 42 (3), 229-244.Committee of donor agencies for small enterprise development (2001). Business development services for small businesses: Guiding principles for donor intervention. Washington: Worldbank.Dawson, J. & Jeans, A. (1997). Looking beyond credit: Business development services and the promotion of innovation among small producers. London: Intermediate Technology Publications.Dawson, J. & Jeans, A. (1998). Looking beyond credit: Business development services and the promotion of innovation among small producers (Working Paper). London: Intermediate Technology Publications.Dawson, J., Kapila, S., & Mead, D. (2002). Introduction. In S. Kapila et al. (Eds.), Building businesses with small producers: Successful business development services in Africa, Asia and Latin America (pp. 1-6). London: ITGD Publishing. 10
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