Ethics and sustainability within SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa: Enabling, constraining and contaminating relationships

  • Mollie Painter-Morland Department of Philosophy, University of Pretoria
  • Kris Dobie Ethics Institute of South Africa
Keywords: ethics, SMEs, Africa, networks, business relationships


In this paper, we explore the role ethics plays in African SMEs. We looked specifically at the role that relationships between SMEs and their stakeholders play in enabling or foreclosing the possibility of ethical business practices. We argue that certain relationships, such as those between SMEs, suppliers, employees and local communities, can be described as enabling. Other relationships, such as those with corrupt governments, are contaminating. What seems to be needed is to expand on and strengthen certain constraining relationships, such as those that exist between peers within a certain industry, professional associations, and civil society. 


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