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Varieties of context and informal entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial activities of migrant youths in rural Ghana

Benjamin Afreh (Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Peter Rodgers (School of Business, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
Natalia Vershinina (Department of Entrepreneurship and Local Economy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Colin C. Williams (Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 3 June 2019

Issue publication date: 5 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine the multi-faceted contexts, which influence the motives, decisions and actions that underpin the mundane and lively entrepreneurial practice of migrant youth entrepreneurs (MYEs) within a developing economy context. Moreover, the paper explores the under-researched linkages between migration and informal entrepreneurship.


Inductive, qualitative field data from a migrant destination, the Ashanti Region in Ghana are analysed, comprising 15 interviews with MYEs who hail from 12 communities in the three Northern Regions of Ghana. The authors introduce a narrative-based approach, which has previously been under-employed within empirical studies of informal entrepreneurship.


The findings showcase the complex array of opportunities and challenges, which influence individual decisions to engage in informal entrepreneurship. The findings highlight the importance of not only economic rationales but also non-economic rationales for engaging in informal entrepreneurship. Such rationales emerge from the legitimation of informal practices, the social embeddedness of migrant youth within family and community networks and the precarious nature of informal entrepreneurship.


The fine-grained discussion of the findings contributes explicitly to theory by underscoring the diversity of informal entrepreneurship activities. Theoretically, the article demonstrates the need to look beyond narrow economic explanations for why individuals engage in informal entrepreneurship. Taking a more holistic approach to explaining motivations for engaging in informal entrepreneurship, enables more nuanced understandings of the importance of non-economic rationales for individuals, located in specific contextual settings.



Afreh, B., Rodgers, P., Vershinina, N. and Williams, C.C. (2019), "Varieties of context and informal entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial activities of migrant youths in rural Ghana", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 996-1013.



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