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Entrepreneurship in Africa: Explaining Why it Became a Primary Solution to Youth Unemployment?*

Enterprise and Economic Development in Africa

ISBN: 978-1-80071-323-9, eISBN: 978-1-80071-322-2

Publication date: 11 June 2021


This chapter uses discourse analysis to explain why entrepreneurship has become a primary response to Africa’s youth employment challenge. It analyses almost 20 years of academic literature and publications from one of the world’s foremost authorities on entrepreneurship: the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). The study found that youth were positioned within a discourse of entrepreneurial essentialism; where entrepreneurship was narrativised as the only option for youth employment; and youth were framed as entrepreneurship being the natural solution for them. Youth were concurrently framed within numerous contradictory entrepreneurial discourses which were used to elevate and legitimise entrepreneurship as the key pathway for addressing Africa’s youth employment challenge. An important finding in this study was that the dominant model of entrepreneurship being promoted by GEM to address the challenge is a mainly skills-based pathway to self-employment and low-growth microenterprise development. This is concerning for two reasons: firstly, global evidence does not demonstrate much support for such an approach, and secondly, it undermines other responses to youth unemployment, particularly those which seek to address more structural, demand-side barriers to employment.



Hunt, S. (2021), "Entrepreneurship in Africa: Explaining Why it Became a Primary Solution to Youth Unemployment?*", Nziku, D.M. and Struthers, J.J. (Ed.) Enterprise and Economic Development in Africa, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 121-171.



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