Entrepreneurship in Africa
Edited by Akinyinka Akinyoade – Ton Dietz – Chibuike Uche
ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN AFRICA
The term “entrepreneur” was first used in 1755 to describe “someone who ex-ercises business judgement in the face of uncertainty” (Bull and Willard 1993). It involves strategic planning and risk-taking (Cf: Nijkamp 2003; Shimizu 2012; Luchsinger and Bagby 1987).
One of the earliest definitions of entrepreneurship describes it as the combination of resources in new ways (Tsai and Ghoshal 1998; Schumpeter 1976). Entrepreneurship is therefore more than simply starting or inheriting a business. It “is a process through which individuals identify opportunities, allocate resources, and create value.
This creation of value is often through the identification of unmet needs or […] of opportunities for change.” Generally, “entrepreneurs see ‘problems’ as ‘opportunities,’ then take action to identify the solutions to those problems and the customers who will pay to have those problems solved.”
Entrepreneurial success is thus “simply a function of the ability of an entrepreneur to see these opportunities in the marketplace, initiate change (or take advantage of change) and create value through solutions.” (Cf. Foriwaa and Akuamoah-Boateng 2013; this definition can be found in Watson 2011: 1).
It is the duty of entrepreneurs to consistently seek out opportunities from their environment. Such opportunities can be in the form of the creation of new products and services or the use of existing products and services in new ways. Such opportunities, therefore, depend on the specificities of the local environment.
In other words, entrepreneurial opportunities are context-specific. What constitutes an opportunity in one country may not constitute an opportunity in another country (Venkataraman and Sarasvathy 2001).
From the above, it is clear that the understanding of one’s environment is critical to identifying and exploiting entrepreneurial opportunities. Embedded in entrepreneurship are the concepts of strategy and risk (Ogbor 2009).
With respect to the importance of strategy in entrepreneurship, it has been noted that firms generally have to make strategic choices if they are to survive.
Such choices include: the selection of goals; deciding on the products and services to offer; deciding on the design and configuration of policies that determine how the firm positions itself to compete in product markets; determining the appropriate level of scope and diversity of the firm’s operations; and, deciding on the design of the organisational structure, administrative system and policy