Varieties of context and informal entrepreneurship: entrepreneurial activities of migrant youths in rural Ghana

Benjamin Afreh, Peter Rodgers, Natalia Vershinina, Colin C. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the multi-faceted contexts, which influence the motives, decisions and actions that underpin the mundane and lively entrepreneurial practice of migrant youth entrepreneurs (MYEs) within a developing economy context. Moreover, the paper explores the under-researched linkages between migration and informal entrepreneurship. Design/methodology/approach: Inductive, qualitative field data from a migrant destination, the Ashanti Region in Ghana are analysed, comprising 15 interviews with MYEs who hail from 12 communities in the three Northern Regions of Ghana. The authors introduce a narrative-based approach, which has previously been under-employed within empirical studies of informal entrepreneurship. Findings: The findings showcase the complex array of opportunities and challenges, which influence individual decisions to engage in informal entrepreneurship. The findings highlight the importance of not only economic rationales but also non-economic rationales for engaging in informal entrepreneurship. Such rationales emerge from the legitimation of informal practices, the social embeddedness of migrant youth within family and community networks and the precarious nature of informal entrepreneurship. Originality/value: The fine-grained discussion of the findings contributes explicitly to theory by underscoring the diversity of informal entrepreneurship activities. Theoretically, the article demonstrates the need to look beyond narrow economic explanations for why individuals engage in informal entrepreneurship. Taking a more holistic approach to explaining motivations for engaging in informal entrepreneurship, enables more nuanced understandings of the importance of non-economic rationales for individuals, located in specific contextual settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberIJEBR-02-2018-0109
Pages (from-to)996-1013
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2019


  • Context
  • Embeddedness
  • Informal entrepreneurship
  • Migration
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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