The lack of financial inputs and access to microfinance services is a problem for local producers of forest products, especially in the case of small-scale enterprises. This publication reviews major issues and constraints facing small-scale enterprises in developing countries trying to access microfinance services, and identifies ways to overcome these challenges. It analyses the different types of microfinance institutions, the role that they can play in the forest sector given the characteristics of small-scale enterprises and forest communities, and their impact on local livelihoods and environment.
In this publication, small-scale enterprises are those where economic activities are undertaken at mainly the individual or household level, normally employing members of the family, close relatives or neighbours, and where salaried labour is in general negligible. This publication focuses on the smaller and less structured forest enterprises, because these are the ones more likely to face difficulties in accessing microfinance services. However, most of the issues and recommendations also apply to bigger enterprises, which may employ labourers. The enterprises' activities include harvesting and processing of wood forest products such as timber, fuelwood, forest services, and non-wood forest goods such as fruits, herbs and plants, bamboo, rattan and resins.
The analysis encompasses different microfinance institutions and approaches that can be accessed by small-scale enterprises, for the provision not only of microcredit, but of a comprehensive range of services including savings, leasing, insurance and cash transfers. It looks at comparative advantages and weaknesses of different approaches and instruments. It includes: