African capitalisms: Bringing the entrepreneur back in
Date and Start Time 29 June, 2017 at 09:00
The interdisciplinary panel focuses on the emergence (or otherwise) of capitalist entrepreneurship. We are looking for empirical studies on mid-sized indigenous entrepreneurs and their companies who operate in the productive sectors of the economy, including complementary banking.
Is Africa the last frontier of capitalism? While African studies has shied away from this question since the fading of the 'Kenya debate', recent economic journalism and consultancy literature has taken it up and enthusiastically answers it in the affirmative. The proposed interdisciplinary panel intends to focus this question on the emergence (or otherwise) of capitalist entrepreneurship. Against the background of the thesis of the 'missing middle', we are looking for empirical studies on mid-sized indigenous entrepreneurs (long-settled ethnic minorities and the diaspora included) and their companies who oper-ate in productive enterprise (not trade); in particular those active in sectors exposed to international competition; and who owe their business model not primarily to collusion with state structures and thus the appropriation of politically mediated rent. This entrepreneurship may not necessarily be con-fined to the so-called formal sector. Recent research on the informal sector has established its diversity and demonstrated that dynamic entrepreneurs often remain in the informal sector on purpose, where they operate not only as necessity entrepreneurs. Studies on national and regional value chains and manufacturing clusters are equally welcome, as well as those on domestic banking complementary to the productive economy.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Capitalism in East Africa - An interdisciplinary approach to entrepreneurship in Kenya and Rwanda
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.
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?
Pan Africa Rising: The Afro-Entrepreneurs Who Are Promoting New Political Economies in Africa
The paper deploys the notion of Pan Africa Rising to examine a new genre of African entrepreneurs that are representative of a new pan African leadership that is derived from a burgeoning transnational capitalist class, a new middle class, and transformative business sectors in Africa.
The notion of Pan African Rising reconciles Africa Rising and Pan African Renaissance narratives and principles to demonstrate how Africans are engaging and contributing to globalization, and they are developing hybrid economic and business models that draw from distinctive experiences used to shape Africans' self-determined economic agendas. The paper examines the entrepreneurs that embody Pan Africa Rising, Nigeria's Tony Elumelu and South Africa's Reuel Khoza, who are representative of a new pan African leadership derived from the awakening of a burgeoning transnational capitalist class, a new middle class, and transformative business sectors in Africa that are driving new Pan African economics.
In leading business models, Africapitalism and Ubuntu Business, Elumelu and Khoza are seen as purveyors of Afro-modern entrepreneurship, a new genre of African leadership that combats Africa's marginalization in the international political economy using a tactic of negotiated dirigisme to achieve more fulsome economic benefits for Africans. Both leaders are presented as exemplars of a bourgeoning African business class who are strategically cultivating discourses of Africonciousness to engage national, regional, and international public-private sector dialogues about African political economies.
In this paper it is argued that Elumelu and Khoza's leadership illuminates the paradox that the economic practices of both business leaders paradoxically seem to be at once pro-neoliberal in that they uncritically leverage and thus enable neoliberal Africa Rising narratives. Yet, at the same time, they are also significantly and increasingly Afri-centric, nationalistic, and Pan Africanist presenting alternative approaches to neoliberal Africa Rising policies that offer distinctive alterity for understanding African economic struggles in a global era
Party Politics, Capital Mobilization and the Rise of Indigenous Capitalists in Ghana's Fourth Republic
How is party politics driving economic transformation in Ghana?
In the last two decades, impressive growth rates have been recorded in a number of states in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nonetheless, economic transformation has not happened in much of Africa. The 'emerging Africa' narrative is linked to political liberalization and its growth inducing features such as democratic governance, peace and stability. The aim of this paper is to question whether liberal democracy as institutionalized in Africa has any bearing on the emerging class of home-grown capitalists. Using Ghana as a case study, this paper explores a number of questions: what is driving economic growth in Ghana? what is the link between party politics and capital mobilization, and how is capital mobilized in non-capitalist environment? The empirical part of the analysis is based on data collected through in-depth interviews with political elites, technocrats, business association and party activists. The paper argues that party politics facilitates access to public capital and its mobilization and, consequently the rise of the new generation of indigenous capitalists. It concludes that capital is largely mobilized from public resources. Two types of capital are mobilized in the political arena; party membership allows political entrepreneurs to mobilize 'phantom' capital through their proxy companies. Much of the phantom capital is re-invested in partisan politics. On the other hand, special government initiatives allow 'real' capital to be mobilize by large business enterprises. The mobilize capital is used to expand or diversify the business, and wean it from partisan politics.
Financial literacy in the South African urban small business sector: Nature, extent and utilisation in the Eastern Cape Province
A multi-method study of financial literacy among urban-based SMME operators in South Africa reveals a paradoxical finding: widespread possession of financial literacy skills did not equate to widespread utilisation of those skills. This posed a threat to long-term business success.
Regarded as a key skills need in the small, medium and microenterprise (SMME) sector, financial literacy has spawned serious debate among scholars and policy makers. In South Africa, assessments are mixed regarding the financial literacy levels of SMME operators. While some studies give a generally positive rating of the levels of financial knowledge in the sector, others suggest that the sector is bedeviled by a financial literacy deficits. The existing knowledge base about the sector is thus weak; yet the sector is believed by government and development agencies as key to employment creation and economic growth. Against this background, this paper presents data from a multi-method study of SMME operators in Port Elizabeth, East London and Mthatha - the Eastern Cape Province's major cities. The aim was to assess the nature of financial knowledge at their disposal, whether such knowledge was utilised by the operators, and if so, how widespread was the utilisation. Eighty randomly selected SMME operators were surveyed. In addition, 20 respondents were interviewed. The financial literacy variables used in the study were: savings, budgeting, use of credit, debt repayments, cash management, record keeping and profit determination. The study found that while most SMME operators possessed basic financial literacy, they lacked the ability to utilize it. Operators could discuss and demonstrate knowledge of the various financial literacy variables but did not utilize them in the day-to-day running of the enterprise - which potentially threatens the long-term success of the business with dire consequences for urban employment creation.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.