Major Research Project

Entrepreneurship in Africa

Theme(s): ,
Project Leader(s): Phumlani Nkontwana

Entrepreneurship in Africa is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, enterprise support organisations (ESOs) have been hailed for pioneering a new continental innovation era of technology entrepreneurship. On the other hand, some scholars have criticized ESOs for lacking an accompanying development perspective in their varied efforts and approaches. Specifically, it has been pointed out that the technology discourse growing in the form of digital entrepreneurship cannot be viewed outside the bigger continental Discourse of African development aimed at achieving beyond technology advancement but also inclusive and sustainable development.

The complexity of African entrepreneurship stems from a multiplicity of issues including – but not limited to – lack of knowledge about how ESOs connect promotion activities with the broader development agenda. Africa as a region has no coherent policy on entrepreneurship, lacks visible domestic entrepreneurship strategies and is characterized by limited access to capital, especially early stage funding. Furthermore, and despite emerging in such challenging conditions, African entrepreneurs are arguably inadequately or inappropriately incentivized and supported compared to their Global North counterparts. The complexity abounds if one adds structural issues such as limited capital accumulation and the way intergenerational family wealth establishes platforms for subsequent generations. The result is the classic uneven playing field and well-known inhibiters of development through entrepreneurship.

This study looks to explore stories of locals in Rwanda, Ghana and Kenya in order to make sense of lived realities of efforts toward momentum (sustained traction) and maturity (intensity and depth) in entrepreneurship across the continent. Using a narrative-based research approach through SenseMaker®, the study aims to empower locals with a tool to voice out their experiences and perspectives on current entrepreneurship issues with the hope to inspire policymakers and practitioners with useful signaling insight on how and what to leverage of existing development projects (adjacent possible) for social change.

We invite anyone either born in Rwanda, Ghana or Kenya or working in the field of entrepreneurship development in these countries to participate in the survey. Taking part in the survey is both anonymous and voluntary.

This is a particularly exciting research approach to pursue, given the current COVID-19 challenges we are facing on the African continent today. Since it is not possible to travel into Africa at the moment (to do physical story collections), what this approach still makes possible is to resume contact with pre-COVID-19 stakeholder relationships in these countries who, in turn, will forward the SenseMaker site to their own contacts / entrepreneurs on the ground. Hopefully this research strategy will work out and allow us to co-generate sufficient quant-qual data for completing PhD studies, plus generating sufficient decision-making / action-taking policies + plans for further developing entrepreneurship on the African continent.

For more information on this work click here.

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