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Entrepreneurship in Africa: Initiatives and Challenges

Africa has had an improved economic and social performance, being the second-fastest growing region in the world since the mid-1990s, after Asia, but ahead of Latin America, Europe and North America. Its GDP grew as its median poverty rate fell.24 The livelihoods of the continent’s nationals have, however, not improved commensurately, and it is submitted that entrepreneurship can address this stubborn income gap, especially if it can evolve beyond its current state of necessity-based informality into one that is vibrant and robust enough to promote sustained economic growth.25 The solution for Africa lies with the African people—their creativity and hard work, their spirit of entrepreneurship and the creation of businesses that create jobs and enhance socioeconomic stability.26

Entrepreneurial Culture in Africa

The entrepreneurial culture is a concept that covers the “rules of the game” from the perspective of the individual starting a business, and from the other participants in different markets. It touches on the economic, social and political aspects that the entrepreneur has to deal with. The entrepreneur usually shows common behavioural patterns from cultural learning, but has to work in an environment where behaviour has to be adjusted in line with formal and non-formal rules to maximize the probability of success.27 Entrepreneurial culture (also called enterprising culture) touches many aspects of society and the economic environment. It touches on education policy, industrial policy, financial policy, internationalization policy, technical training policy, etc.28

Entrepreneurial culture in Africa is largely driven by necessity. In other words, entrepreneurship is a means of survival, viewed as a last resort, rather than an opportunity or aspiration. But the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey suggests that the pursuit of entrepreneurship as a career has gained acceptance and legitimacy in Africa, and is enjoying improved general views. Even though formal employment is still highly prized, some encouraging trends are emerging. Opportunity-driven entrepreneurship, for example, is becoming respectable, and GEM’s study found that more than three-quarters of Kenyan and Ethiopian respondents believe that most people consider becoming an entrepreneur a desirable career choice. The same holds true for 64 per cent of respondents in Tanzania, 51 per cent in Ghana, 49 per cent in Nigeria, and 44 per cent in South Africa.29

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