Entrepreneurs by the grace of God : life and work of seamstresses in Bolgatanga, Ghana

TitleEntrepreneurs by the grace of God : life and work of seamstresses in Bolgatanga, Ghana
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsM. van 't Wout
Pagination - 176
Date Published2014///
Place Published[S.l.]
Publication Languageeng
Keywordsemployment creation, Ghana, informal sector, labour policy, poverty reduction, women entrepreneurs

This research project aims at understanding the expectations and motivations of young women in Ghana's Upper East region to start their own business. Supporting the owners of small-scale businesses in the informal economy has become a central objective of the global development agenda. Using an anthropological approach, this research intends to contribute to, and criticize, the dominant discourse on the need to advance entrepreneurship. The central research question is: what are individual, cultural and contextual factors that shape the decision of young women in Bolgatanga to enroll in a seamstress apprenticeship and in which ways do these factors relate to the wider debate on promoting entrepreneurship as a development strategy? Based on the material presented in this thesis, I argue that the theoretical arguments underlying efforts to advance entrepreneurship among the poor are fundamentally flawed. There are three cross-cutting issues that need to be taken into account when we discuss entrepreneurship as a development strategy. These issues are relevant for the situation of seamstresses in Bolgatanga, but also apply to a wider field. These issues are: the weak conceptualization of entrepreneurship in development discourse, the neglect of the socio-economic context in which "entrepreneurial" activities take place, the importance of cultural and psychological factors, and the ongoing attractiveness that entrepreneurship carries for development policymakers. Based on the stories of seamstresses in Bolgatanga, this thesis is an appeal to rethink policies designed to promote (female) entrepreneurship among the poor. It calls into question the portrayal of self-employment as "entrepreneurship" and the depiction of poverty as an individual problem.


Master thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

IR handle/ Full text URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1887/33231
Citation Key7182