Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University
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In Search of Black Entrepreneurship: Why is there a lack of Entrepreneurial Activity among the Black population in South Africa?
Vol. Volume 17 Number 1 March/2012

Peter Preisendorfer Ansgar Bitz Frans J. Bezuidenhout
Compared to other ethnic groups, the black population of South Africa has a low participation rate in entrepreneurship activities. The research question of this article is to explain this empirical fact. Based on twenty-four expert interviews, five patterns of explanation are presented and elaborated: a historical apartheid explanation, a financial resources explanation, a human capital explanation, a traits and mindset explanation and a social capital and network explanation. The historical apartheid explanation cannot be qualified independently of the other explanations as a distinctive explanation of its own. Although missing financial resources and shortages of human capital are the factors most often mentioned by the experts, and probably the most important ones, the remaining two explanations (mindset and social network) also deserve attention. A point argued in the conclusion of this article is that socio-cultural values, and the concept of “social capital” in particular, merit further investigation with respect to the question of why there is a lack of black entrepreneurship in South Africa.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, self-employment; black entrepreneurship, South Africa; apartheid, human capital, personality traits, social capital, entrepreneurial mindset.