Greening Small and Medium Enterprises: Its Impact on Competitiveness and Employment

Worldwide, economic growth models currently rely on carbon-based energies and the intensive use of natural resources. This reliance is unsustainable. As governments are facing increased pressure to move to greener modes of production, consumption is increasing. Both issues present new challenges to developing countries. This project will look at how small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will manage this transformation.

SMEs are responsible for the largest share of jobs in developing countries. An environmental, or greening, approach to production can put SMEs and jobs at risk. However, new industries and productive sectors may emerge too, generating new jobs. Though there is growing knowledge about the implications of going green, reliable analysis and data are limited. There are also opposing views on the likely impact going green will have on employment, and SME competitiveness and survival.

This project will carry out applied research on the challenge and opportunities that going green offer to SMEs in Peru and Argentina. Specifically, it will aim to generate findings on the main impacts of better environmental practices on employment, labour conditions, productivity, performance, and the creation of new green markets in Buenos Aires and Lima.

Researchers will analyze firms' greening experiences in both locales using surveys, interviews, and case studies. Their findings will:
-generate new knowledge about different models of sustainable practices;
-assess the impact of going green on employment and productivity for firms participating in clean production programs;
-provide evidence of whether or not new green markets develop out of the greening process; and,
-promote a policy debate on alternative models of greener practices in SMEs.

The research will also shed light on the role of public policies in fostering or impeding the adoption of green business practices. It will help promote policy debates on alternative models of environmental transformation in SMEs, taking their expected impacts on employment and development into account.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Friday, March 1, 2013

End Date

Monday, June 1, 2015


24 months

IDRC Officer

Petrazzini, Ben

Total funding

CA$ 558,700


Argentina, South America, Peru, North and Central America


Employment and Growth

Project Leader

Daniela Ramos


Fundación Centro de Investigaciones para la Transformación

Institution Country


Institution Website

Project Leader

Marcos Alegre


Grupo GEA

Institution Country


Institution Website