In the article that has been published in Journal of Depopulation and Rural Development studies do Hilde Bjørkhaug and Gunn Turid Kvam explore reasons for and plans for growth among these producers.
Since 1990 close to 1000 small-scale food enterprises have been established in Norway. This can be seen as a result of a proactive policy promoting diversification in rural areas, which fosters and financially supports rural entrepreneurship in the start-up stages. Part of the funding has been dedicated to women and young people to ensure better gender equality and recruitment, particularly within agriculture. The instruments for starting a new business have been quite successful gender-wise; the amount of women receiving grants is now over 40 percent. However, a recent evaluation reveals that the goals of increased profit, settlement and employment in rural areas have not been met (The Office of the Auditor General, 2008). One important reason for this seems to be that most firms are still very small in size, and both their turnover and profitability is at a low level. Therefore the Minister of Agriculture established a new goal according to this industry, with an objective of a 20 percent turnover for specialty food products in grocery shops at national level by 2020. To reach this goal, small enterprises must grow in size, become larger units with wider market focus and strive for a greater impact. Alternatively, small firms must cooperate in joint ventures to achieve the same goals.
In this article the authors are analysing growth ambitions and initiatives for achieving business growth among male and female owners/managers of small scale food enterprises in Norway. They are also asking how these owner/managers ambitions correspond to public goals for such enterprises. In a survey of small-scale food enterprises, eight out of ten businesses are either in or planning to enter a growth process, when growth is defined as growth in turnover. The analysis shows that growth aspirations are explained by wishes of owners to secure their businesses and receive higher income. Contrary to policy aims of expansion of small scale food products into a national market, enterprise owners/managers consider growth in established local and regional markets to be most relevant. Among small scale food enterprises, there are close to 50 percent female owners/managers.
Bjørkhaug, Hilde and Gunn Turid Kvam (2011). Local small-scale food enterprises: ambitions and initiatives for achieving business growth among male and female owners and managers.Journal of Depopulation and Rural Development studies. Ager 11/2011: 29-55.