Small and Medium Enterprises in the Americas, Effect of Disaster Experience on Readiness Capabilities

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Juan Pablo Sarmiento
Catalina Sarmiento
Gabriela Hoberman
Meenakshi Jerath
Vicente Sandoval


Disaster risk reduction, Disaster experience, Small and medium-sized enterprises, Readiness


Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is key in strengthening resilience and achievement of sustainable development. The private sector is co-responsible for DRR: it is a generator of risks, and a subject exposed to risks. There are competing narratives in the literature regarding the relationship between business’ disaster experience and DRR. The current study defined and characterized businesses in the Americas, with a particular interest in small and medium enterprises, and examined whether disaster experience predicts DRR, considering business size. Secondary data analyses were conducted using data from a previous study on private sector participation in DRR conducted in six Western Hemisphere cities (N=1162): Bogotá, Colombia; Kingston, Jamaica; Miami, USA; San José, Costa Rica; Santiago, Chile; and Vancouver, Canada. Results confirmed that business size matters – small businesses had lower levels of DRR efforts compared to medium and large businesses. Disaster experience (i.e., supply chain disruption, loss of telecommunications, power outage, and damaged facilities) predicted DRR. The findings underscore the importance of fostering, advising, and financing small and medium enterprises to proactively develop capabilities in the line of risk and emergency management, and early resumption of operations, post-disasters. Governing agencies and civil society organizations have the ability to provide this support.


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