Accepted paper:

Capitalism in East Africa - An interdisciplinary approach to entrepreneurship in Kenya and Rwanda


Lara Petersen (University of Mainz)

Paper short abstract:

The proposed paper discusses private sector development and entrepreneurship in Kenya and Rwanda. It includes a discourse analysis of the effects of entrepreneurship on development, followed by an overview on the current status of entrepreneurship and business associations in both countries.

Paper long abstract:

To answer the question if Africa is the last frontier of capitalism - which international institutions, companies as well as the media have praised the continent to be - an understanding of private sector development and entrepreneurs as main actors of capitalist development on the micro level is imperative. The first part of the proposed paper will lay out the current international discourses on entrepreneurship and development with a special focus on Africa from different angles, including the point of view of management studies, development economics as well as anthropology (authors include i.e. Wim Naudé, Zoltan Acs and Margaret Meagher). The leading questions will be: What defines an entrepreneur? What effects does entrepreneurship have on developing economies? What are the specifics of African entrepreneurship? How is entrepreneurship embedded into African society? What are the main obstacles? How do economic policies promote entrepreneurship? Finally the paper will include a focus on business associations as key institutions of modern entrepreneurship and networking as well as a traveling model. In a second part of the paper I will illustrate the current status of entrepreneurship in Kenya and Rwanda by exploring the available literature and using data collected during my research in both countries in November 2016. The focus will be on owners and managers of medium size companies. The focus will be on the following questions: Who are the entrepreneurs and what kind of companies are they leading? In what political and economic framework are they working? What networks and organization like business associations do they form?

panel P008
African capitalisms: Bringing the entrepreneur back in