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Enterprise in Africa

Local context matters for entrepreneurship in developing countries where Western ideas of profit may not fit the ‘collectivist’ culture, says article by Laura Claus and Dr Neil Stott of Cambridge Judge Business School.

Enterprise in Africa

Neil Stott

Dr Neil Stott

While “entrepreneurship” may be a hip buzzword in development circles for addressing inequality, Western ideas of enterprise don’t always fit communities in Africa and other parts of the world, says a new article by Laura Claus and Dr Neil Stott of Cambridge Judge Business School.

The article was published on the website of the Network for Business Sustainability, based at Western University in Ontario, Canada, a network that includes more than 5,000 researchers and managers committed to advancing sustainable business.

Western ideas such as individual profit maximisation “do not always fit the outlook of communities in the Global South,” says the article – entitled “Entrepreneurship isn’t one-size-fits-all: local context matters” – co-authored by Laura Claus, a PhD candidate at Cambridge Judge, and Dr Neil Stott, Co-Director of the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge.

Laura Claus

Laura Claus

Together with a colleague in Tanzania, Laura Claus studied for four years a Dutch initiative called African Village Development, which helped 11 villages establish enterprises ranging from honey production to pig farming.

Instead of emphasising individual profit, enterprise managers invested up to 70 per cent of profits in local social needs such as school renovations, houses for teachers and community health care, in line with the “collectivist, sharing-oriented culture” in rural Tanzania.

“We see a need for funders and other organisations to rethink Western entrepreneurship initiatives for development,” the article concludes. “Incorporating local people’s values into initiative design could create value in multiple ways. And considering those values could also change the form of entrepreneurship in the West.”