Disadvantaged Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Volume 14

Cover of Disadvantaged Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Table of contents

(12 chapters)


Pages i-xiii
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Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are tasked with driving economic recovery globally, particularly through knowledge diffusion and consequently, government policy-makers strive to encourage innovation activity to benefit their economies. Entrepreneurial ecosystems (EEs) are increasingly used as a framework through which such policies are funnelled, but an increased focus on high-growth, scale-up entrepreneurship risks overlooking the effects of entrepreneurship on social groups affected by multiple sets of disadvantage. This chapter identifies and analyses the existing research on disadvantaged entrepreneurship and the EE via a systematic review of the literature and then briefly outlines how the chapters contained within this book seek to address the gaps found.

Theme 1: Background and Theory


This chapter evaluates the motivations that inform engagement in enterprise creation and operation by individuals experiencing poverty. An in-depth, empirical qualitative exploration of motives for enterprise amongst a sample of 42 people in the UK who are experiencing poverty conditions is presented. The results demonstrate that traditional push–pull thinking about enterprise motivation lacks nuance, specifically that the financial motive previously assumed to be prioritised in a context of resource deficit, in this research it was not. Second, push–pull motivations and intersections with intrinsic–extrinsic motivations are mapped, creating and developing a more refined understanding of enterprise motivations. Third, contexts and circumstances are recurrent factors reflexively informing motivations of those experiencing poverty and engaging in enterprise creation and operation.


Studies have suggested that entrepreneurship is a key mechanism for rejuvenating and facilitating economic growth in deprived areas. To provide further understanding of the persistently low entrepreneurial intentions found in deprived areas this chapter identifies key mechanisms and theoretical frameworks that link the formation of appropriate human capital to the prevailing environment, and that influences may flow in both directions. This contributes to the existing literature to provide a fuller understanding of interest to policy-makers of why past interventions have struggled to boost entrepreneurial intentions and where new interventions may be most effective in generating more positive entrepreneurial intentions in deprived areas.

Theme 2: Contexts


This chapter examines experts’ perceptions of the conditions of their entrepreneurial ecosystems to analyse women’s disadvantages, identify which conditions can improve in comparison to men in Latin America, and if the level of development of their country affects the support women entrepreneurs have. The study is based on regional data collected in Chile and Mexico with one of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor surveys between 2015 and 2018. With a total sample of N = 2,230 male and female experts, the author uses principal component analysis and non-parametric statistics to compare means between genders and also women in different countries. First, male and female experts’ perceptions are compared at the macrolevel and then total women as a subsample are compared between the women experts’ perceptions by country at the mesolevel. At the macrolevel, the results show a clear perceived disadvantage for women entrepreneurs in all conditions except internal market dynamics. At the mesolevel, the findings show that support for women entrepreneurs is better in most conditions for Mexico, which is a less developed country, in comparison to Chile for this case. This chapter goes from studying the general to the particular issues causing gender gaps in entrepreneurial ecosystems in developing Latin American countries. The dataset used represents the biggest data-gathering project in the field of entrepreneurship for the region.


Although entrepreneurial capacity building is a keenly debated topic in migration and diaspora research, the concept of female entrepreneurial capacity and the framing of highly skilled migrant women has remained underexamined. This chapter, therefore, addresses knowledge gaps related to migrant women entrepreneurs (MWEs) by focusing on the entrepreneurial experiences of highly skilled female migrants from both developed and developing countries. Specifically, we turn the ‘disadvantage’ lens towards migrant women’s inherent entrepreneurial dimension, an issue that deserves greater research attention, linking migrant women and their entrepreneurship to the entrepreneurial host context and business environment. Building on rich qualitative data collected via six semi-structured interviews with MWEs based in Finland, we also make practical suggestions for how MWEs can best engage with their entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as suggestions to policy-makers regarding how to improve gender awareness and migrant inclusivity aspects of entrepreneurial ecosystems.


In this study, the authors develop in-depth understanding of how refugee entrepreneurs navigate institutional voids in market participation in Malaysia. The authors employ an inductive research design consistent with recent research investigating adversity and disadvantaged entrepreneurship. The findings of this study reveal that refugees adopted different, gendered approaches to navigate institutional voids in market participation. The women refugees in this study anchored towards safety by leveraging legitimacy of market intermediaries (e.g. social ventures and refugee support organisations) to gain protection for entrepreneurial activities and access markets while conducting their labour at home. The men refugees in this study engaged in harbouring – concealing entrepreneurial activities in the local community or under others’ identities to protect income-generating opportunities. The findings of this study thus provide nuance and demonstrate plurality in how refugee entrepreneurs navigate institutional voids, contributing towards more holistic understanding of refugee entrepreneurship, offering insights for development agencies, policy-makers, and other institutions on how to support refugees’ entrepreneurial activities.

Theme 3: Ecosystem Substitutes and Compliments


The world is currently facing one of the most significant refugee crises in history, posing challenges to policymakers in host countries needing to facilitate socio-economic integration of refugees urgently. Policymakers and scholars have started shedding light on the entrepreneurial potential of refugees. Refugees confront considerable institutional barriers in their new environments. Particularly challenging is that they lose connection to their home country ecosystem through forced displacement and are not yet well-embedded in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem of the host country. The disconnection to the local ecosystem hinders refugees from accessing various resources essential to entrepreneurial activities. Against this background, this chapter illuminates the role of business incubators in integrating refugee entrepreneurs into the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, paying particular attention to relational dynamics within incubators. This study conducts explorative qualitative research with a single case study of a German business incubator for refugees. This study identifies three types of relational dynamics that characterise operation of refugee business incubators and two mechanisms constructive and descriptive to their mission. Finally, this study derives practical implications for refugee business incubators and policymakers in refugee-hosting countries.


The current chapter is one of the first studies to specifically address the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) for entrepreneurship development in the disadvantaged context of Sierra Leone. It highlights the important role of CSOs in the petty trading (disadvantaged) entrepreneurial ecosystem. Based on qualitative analysis of interviewers undertaken with two CSOs and three entrepreneurial firms from disadvantaged backgrounds, our findings offer interesting insights into this phenomenon. The authors find that in the context of disadvantaged entrepreneurship development, CSOs are seen as more trustworthy by the general population than the government (public bodies). The government, through the national youth commission, also tried to collaborate with CSOs regarding entrepreneurial skills development in disadvantaged entrepreneurs. The findings further reveal that despite the appreciation of the role of CSOs for disadvantaged entrepreneurship development by public authorities in recent years, they still face many bureaucratic hurdles and delays in operations. Finally, our chapter reveals several dynamics associated with skills and competencies development in disadvantaged entrepreneurship in the Sierra Leone-specific context, where skills such as basic business planning, livestock handling, and financial management emerge as being highly useful.


This chapter explores social enterprises as an alternative and addition to traditional entrepreneurial ecosystems (EEs). It reviews the substantial social enterprise literature in order to identify the myriad of competing tensions constraining development and success of social EEs in areas of significant poverty and economic deprivation. Following this, the findings of several contemporary and novel studies are discussed. These collectively evidence ways social enterprises are overcoming the seemingly immutable constraints they operate under. In particular, the Social Enterprise Places initiative has been highly effective in supporting the development of flourishing social EEs in many locations in the UK. However, the growth of social enterprises, both in number and economic importance, presents further challenges that social enterprise owners and managers will have to contend with. Consequently, these organisations and their allied ecosystems require continued structural, financial and skills support.


The chapters in this book have drawn together issues affecting disadvantaged entrepreneurs as they struggle to access, interact with, and benefit from the traditional entrepreneurial ecosystem (EE). The findings highlight the importance of their motives for entrepreneurial activity, their resources, and how access to these are affected by issues such as gender and migrant status. In addition, substitutes for and complements to more traditional EEs have also been identified, including incubators, civil society organisations, and social enterprises, demonstrating the importance of alternative EEs often left unexplored in mainstream literature. The authors conclude that future research could usefully further explore background contexts driving disadvantaged groups towards entrepreneurial activity and the existing theory surrounding this. Particularly relevant for future research is the role of human capital, intersectional factors such as gender, migrant status, location, and roles of activities. Future research into stakeholders that can substitute for elements of the traditional EE is also important. Understanding this will assist disadvantaged entrepreneurs to both develop the absorptive capacity to create and develop their own businesses and potentially begin to access parts of the formal EE.


Pages 225-231
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Cover of Disadvantaged Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
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Contemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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