PURPOSE: The aim of this paper is to provide a systematic and sound framework for addressing and measuring business social responsibility (BSR) in small and micro enterprises with specific focus on the African context. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: The paper is theoretical but has practical applications. The approach was to use principles of BSR from the literature to create a framework for addressing BSR issues in smaller ventures that operate in the African environment. Developing the framework involved operationalizing the linguistic meaning of BSR into observable indicators for it to be measurable. This involved the breaking down of the concept of BSR into dimensions and eventually into measurable elements.
FINDINGS: The framework identifies customer-, employee-, and community-related issues as the key BSR activities of African small businesses. Environmentalism is not a major concern for most of these businesses because they are mostly retail and services in nature; hence their impact on the environment will be so low that they need not concern themselves with environmental issues. RESEARCH LIMITATIONS/IMPLICATIONS: Critics will point out the absence of environmental issues as a major limitation. However, the authors believe that such activities are typically associated with large industrial ventures. Thus, given their nature, it is unlikely small businesses will concern themselves with such activities. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: There is a need for a framework that captures the African context. This paper fulfils that need by proposing a framework for micro and small ventures with possible inclusion of medium enterprises based on the stakeholder theory. Academics will find it useful in their research efforts. Fund managers will also find it useful as a tool for evaluating small business BSR performance. Small business owners will have a benchmark in performing their social obligations. Finally, consumers, businesses, citizens, NGOs and society at large can use it in distinguishing credible and effective socially responsible SMMEs from those that are not.