Evaluating Support to SMEs: Rationale, Challenges and Opportunities

Published by: 
Evaluation Cooperation Group
Publication Date: 
September, 2014

Document Type:

ECG Paper #6

Small and medium-sized enterprises are recognised as playing a critically important role in job creation, economic development and social cohesion. However, the sector also faces constraints in terms of access to finance, particularly in times of economic crisis and in economies with under-developed financial sectors. For this reason, support to SMEs, principally focused on enhancing access to finance, is a strategic priority for many multilateral development banks (MDBs) and International Financial Institutions (IFIs).

In this context, evaluation can play a vital role in informing the design of support programmes for SMEs; helping to improve their relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability. But evaluating support to SMEs is also confronted with particular challenges that should be a source of concern to the evaluation community and all actors involved in this sector.

The report examines the rationale for support to SMEs; what support is being provided to SMEs; what support reaches the intended benficiaries; the effect of support on SMEs; and evaluating wider impacts and relevance.