This article presents the characteristics and situation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in a number of Latin American countries. First of all, it considers the most common definitions used in each country and establishes the number of enterprises in each category, together with their sectoral and regional distribution. It then analyses the influence that the business environment has on the management of enterprises, their problems and the public response, with consideration given to the degree of institutional development in the region and the impact of this on business behaviour. In the light of supply and demand aspects, lastly, it suggests areas for improvement and mechanisms for public-private coordination. It also identifies some problem areas for businesses and formulates proposals for greater and more effective involvement by those responsible for the design and implementation of development policies in the region.