Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University
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Evaluating the Motives of Informal Entrepreneurs in Koforidua, Ghana
Vol. Volume 17 Number 1 March/2012

Kwame Adom Colin C. Williams
In recent years, there has been growing recognition in the entrepreneurship literature that many entrepreneurs operate in the informal economy and that not all these informal entrepreneurs are doing so out of economic necessity and because of a lack of choice. Instead, it has been asserted that some of these informal entrepreneurs choose to exit the formal economy and trade on an off-the-books basis more as a matter of choice. However, until now most research displaying this has been conducted in advanced western and post-socialist economies. Little has been written on whether this is also the case in third (majority) world countries. This paper starts to fill this gap by evaluating informal entrepreneurs’ motives in sub-Saharan Africa. Reporting the results of face-to-face structured interviews with 80 informal entrepreneurs in Ghana, the finding is that the majority, especially the women informal entrepreneurs, are predominantly necessity-driven while those who are principally intentional participants in informal entrepreneurship are men. However, many women who initially entered informal entrepreneurship out of necessity have over time become more opportunity-driven entrepreneurs. The outcome is a call for wider research in other global regions on informal entrepreneurs’ motives and whether similar gender variations prevail.

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