Who We Reach

We measure the development impact of our investments in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets through a stakeholder approach. Using case study research on select portfolio companies and annual data collection across all of our investments, we track and analyze the individual impact of our partnerships with SMEs on each stakeholder group

Impacts by Stakeholder


SME investing has a number of positive impacts on employees, particularly for unskilled and semi-skilled workers. These benefits can include job creation, higher wages, improved working conditions, and increases in employer-provided benefits such as health care and pension plans. In addition, SMEs often provide their employees with job training, increasing their human capital and competitiveness in the workforce and providing them with career and income security. Combined, these impacts provide employees with more secure and stable jobs and enable them to invest in their families, building or renovating a home, paying for education, or improving their overall quality of living.

Key employee impact metrics across our emerging markets portfolio:

  • 25% average annual increase in employment.
  • 77% of jobs maintained and created are allocated to unskilled and semi-skilled workers, creating opportunities for those most in need.
  • 69% of employees are provided health and pension benefits by their companies.
  • 81% of companies provide formal training to their employees.
  • On average, external training expenditures by the companies (i.e., formal training involving outside costs or trainers) in 2009 or year of exit were $200 per employee.
  • 19% average annual increase in wages in USD terms since year of investment.
  • The average per employee wage was, on average for the surveyed companies in year 2009 or year of exit, 54% higher than the respective average national wage.


SEAF’s analysis has shown that investing in SMEs generates new business for suppliers in the local economy. Many of the SMEs in the SEAF portfolio serve as “market aggregators” for farmers, microenterprises, and other small suppliers, connecting them to larger domestic and international markets and assisting in the procurement of financing and trade credit. By growing businesses around them, SMEs further impact local employment and generate more wealth and opportunity in their surrounding communities.

Key supplier impact metrics across our emerging markets portfolio:

  • On average, each company paid $8.1 million to local suppliers in 2009 or year of exit, compared with an average $4.5 million in year of investment.
  • On average, the number of local suppliers increased 34% each year over the life of investment.
  • On average, payments to local suppliers increased 21% each year over the life of the investment.

Local Governments

The growth of the private sector, through SMEs, generates increased revenues for national governments through taxes and growth in exports. Compared to many smaller companies, SMEs are formalized businesses and comply with local tax laws. As SMEs grow, their tax contributions to the local government progressively increase. In turn, governments can use this revenue to benefit the broader society, through improved infrastructure, education and health services.

Key government impact metrics across our emerging markets portfolio:

  • 49% average annual growth in taxes paid to the government since time of investment.


The growth of SMEs also has a positive impact on domestic customers through access to new or higher quality products and services, often at a lower price than previously available or imported goods.

Key employee impact metrics across our emerging markets portfolio:

  • On average, each company served 440 business (among those with business customers) and 4,200 end-user customers (for those with end-user customers).

Producers of Complementary Goods and Services

Growing SMEs have a positive impact on local producers of complementary goods and services by increasing consumer demand through the sale of their own products. Such impacts, typically not quantifiable, are captured through SEAF’s on-the-ground research and company interviews.


As SMEs grow they serve as catalysts for the development of competitor businesses by aiding in the expansion of industry infrastructures and networks, the growth of market segments, and the development of local suppliers. In addition, successful SMEs serve as a positive example to other local businesses. SEAF’s portfolio companies are often pioneers in their markets, pursuing new business ideas and solutions or overcoming market barriers through expert business assistance and strategically focused investments.

Local Communities

Beyond employment generation, SEAF has found that the growth of an SME often has a positive impact on the company’s surrounding community. SMEs are naturally rooted in smaller local communities and seek to demonstrate and maintain ties to the communities in which they live and operate. Through their growth, SEAF’s portfolio companies often invest in improved local infrastructure, including roads, lighted parking lots, and parks. In addition, entrepreneurs often contribute to their communities in philanthropic ways, donating to local charities, outreach programs, and schools.

Key community impact metrics across our emerging markets portfolio:

  • 28% average annual growth in contributions to local communities (in the form of cash or in kind donations to charitable organizations) since time of investment.
  • $5,200 contributed on average to the local community thru cash and in-kind donations.

Financial Institutions

Local banks, pension funds, and insurance companies also benefit from SME investment. SEAF often helps its entrepreneurs access additional financing as local banks are typically more willing to invest in an SME where SEAF is a shareholder. In addition, increased wages for managers and employees result in higher savings placed in banks or pension funds that can be reinvested in the local economy.

Key financial institution impact metrics across our emerging markets portfolio:

  • On average, for every $1 invested by SEAF, $1.94 was invested by others, including debt and equity from a range of financial institutions, local banks, and private individual investors.