Review of Patience Panashe’s What does entrepreneurship really mean in the African context?

Review of Patience Panashe’s What does entrepreneurship really mean in the African context?

Patience Panashe goes on to begin her article by saying that entrepreneurship is widely recognised in regions like Africa, for economic and other reasons, the public sector has had to disengage and divest from many areas of the economy and allow private enterprise. But what exactly does entrepreneurship mean in Africa? Does it refer to big incorporations and startups or does it extend to the day-to-day enterprises that keep the African home running?

Because Africa is different from the western world when it comes to economic infrastructure and political considerations, entrepreneurship is defined in a way that fits our reality.

Entrepreneurship Definition

Panashe says that entrepreneurship has become a global byword for positivity in business and management. It is the key to building a robust and developing economy. Most people agree that the core of entrepreneurship involves the identification of opportunities in the emerging needs of the population through the assembling of resources and creation of enterprises, how entrepreneurship is operated is highly contextual, and what works in one place may not work in another.

After the completion of her innovation and entrepreneurship course for a European MBA, she realised that entrepreneurship in the western world is presented as a sophisticated activity while entrepreneurship in Africa is not the same. I concur with her opinion because Africa has its own unique challenges and running a business here will be very different from running a business in the west.

When it comes to making sense of African entrepreneurship there is no clear blueprint that one can use to ascertain the practices and project success.

According to the African Development Bank, 22% of Africa’s working-age population are starting businesses. This is the highest entrepreneurship rate in the world. The entrepreneurial rate ranges from 9% in Algeria to about 40% in Nigeria and Zambia.

Economies that are poorer tend to have more entrepreneurs often out of necessity.

Who is an African Entrepreneur?

Panashe states that African entrepreneurs consist mostly of women- 27% of the adult female population and the youth. The continent’s females entrepreneurship rate is also the highest in the world. But these businesses are generally less profitable and provide fewer jobs than their male counterparts.

This problem can be traced to the gendering of work and marginalisation of women from the mainstream economy during colonisation.

Family businesses are also very important to African entrepreneurship but most of these businesses are informal, which limits their growth.

According to Panashe, another area of relative importance to African entrepreneurship is the diaspora, their remittance into the economy is a significant source of startup investment. Some African entrepreneurs are diaspora returnees who decided not to take up formal employment. They rely heavily on networks to ensure the success of their business. With their exposure to the west, foreign entrepreneurs can combine their knowledge with how businesses are run in Africa and can create something sustainable.

Challenges for African Entrepreneurs

African entrepreneurs appear to have a greater tolerance for risk than non-entrepreneurs and lean towards innovation.

Growth based on the global definition is very important for entrepreneurship because it is an important catalyst for entrepreneurial opportunities. Africa’s financial resource constraints seem to stop African entrepreneurs from growing their businesses.

Africa continues to change, often in unpredictable ways. These changes are the main source of entrepreneurial opportunity. It is important that we don’t completely rely on the western standard of entrepreneurship but also develop our own which will eventually lead us to have stronger economies.

Patience Panashe’s article highlights a lot of the points that African entrepreneurship is quite different from foreign entrepreneurship. This is true, for our businesses to succeed completely we should adopt a model that best suits our environment, especially the collective problems we face as a continent.

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