Entrepreneurial resilience: the case of Somali grocery shop owners in a South African township
Most studies on entrepreneurship have highlighted the relative importance of a conducive environment for the development of entrepreneurship. This notwithstanding, entrepreneurship has been noted to thrive even under the most adverse conditions, such as during economic, social and political instabilities. Using resilience as the propensity to bounce back after adversity and xenophobia, crime, unhealthy competition, etc. as correlates of adversity or an unconducive business environment, this paper investigated the preponderance of Somali grocery shops in South African township despite the perceived hostility of the business environment. Anchored on the qualitative research approach, a purposive sample of 13 participants provided the required data for analysis. Specifically, the data collection took the form of focus group interviews in which two groups of 6 and 7 informants were purposively selected to be part of the interviews. Prominent in the results was the fact that almost all the current Somali grocery shops in the study area have been victims of crime and theft. Furthermore, virtually all the Somali grocery shops that were victimized during the xenophobic outburst have since re-opened. The foregoing themes of resilience and adversity unmistakably indicate the propensity of Somali grocery shop owners’ ability to bounce back. As to what township entrepreneurs worry or fear most, clearly the fear of the re-occurrence of the xenophobic attacks surpassed that of burglary, theft and death. As to what fuels Somali’s persistence and preponderance in townships, both push and pulled factors were reported. Reporting on risk aversion, it was noted that most of the founders (here referred to as an entrepreneur) are not actively involved in running the shops. They simply recruit others to do the job on their behalf. Under this circumstance, the risk is limited to financial risk. This approach is quite different for other African immigrants in the same township.
Keywords: entrepreneurship, turbulent business environment, xenophobia, entrepreneurial resilience, South Africa townships.
JEL Classification: M00.
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