To read this content please select one of the options below:

Women, polygamy and family entrepreneuring in southwest Benin: the role of endogenous knowledge

Bienvenu Akowedaho Dagoudo (Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Faculty of Agronomy, University of Parakou, Parakou, Benin) (Faculty of Agriculture, Uganda Martyrs University, Kampala, Uganda)
Natalia Vershinina (Department of Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Innovation, Audencia Business School, Nantes, France) (IAE Paris Sorbonne Business School, Paris, France)
William Karani Murithi (Department of Business Administration, Ashesi University, Accra, Ghana) (Strathmore Business School, Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya) (Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 28 February 2023




As families engage in entrepreneurship, particularly in developing economies, women's engagement in such activities is subject to the traditional cultures, norms and values of the communities to which they belong. This paper aims to investigate how the socio-cultural context influences women's entrepreneurship as women engage in “family entrepreneuring”.


The study draws on an inductive qualitative approach to explore how multiple cultural, social and economic contexts encourage women's entrepreneurship and, thus, position them at the centre of family entrepreneuring within this community. Using snowballing techniques, we analyse narratives from 51 women entrepreneurs, generated through semi-structured interviews, to reveal key insights into the practice of family entrepreneuring.


The findings reveal the complex socio-cultural context within the “Adja” community, where polygamy, a traditional and cultural practice, enables the transfer of culturally and socially embedded informal knowledge. The study explains how women's entrepreneuring activities are supported by informal in-family apprenticeships, resulting in family members learning specific skills while also experiencing the feeling of belonging to the family. Showcasing the heterogeneity of contexts, particularly those found in Africa, this study challenges the normative view within the Global North and the dominance of the “heroic male” in entrepreneurship by showcasing how women (especially matriarchs) are significant actors in training other women, co-wives, daughters and relatives in family entrepreneuring.


Thus, this study contributes to the extant literature on family entrepreneuring by revealing an unusual case of women from polygamous families becoming the focal actors in family entrepreneuring activity and challenging the culturally ascribed gender roles to evolve into the breadwinners in their households, as well as focusing on how this process is driven by endogenous knowledge exchange.



Dagoudo, B.A., Vershinina, N. and Murithi, W.K. (2023), "Women, polygamy and family entrepreneuring in southwest Benin: the role of endogenous knowledge", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles