Informal settlements: The prevalence of and barriers to entrepreneurial synergies in slum communities

Publisher:
Emerald
Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
Contemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research: Enterprising Places: Leadership and Governance Networks, 2014, 3 pp. 197 - 225
Issue Date:
2014-01-01
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© 2014 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – Across the global community the eradication of slums has been identified as a key project as part of the broader goal to eradicate poverty. Entrepreneurial efforts are viewed as a key means of ‘lifting’ people from poverty. Through a focus on Nigeria, this chapter examines slum upgrading programmes. The primary aim is to identify the opportunities and barriers facing inhabitants of informal settlements to realising entrepreneurial synergies that can occur in particular places. Methodology/approach – A case study examination of the Kpirikpiri informal settlement in Ebonyi State, Nigeria was conducted that utilised a mixed-method approach. The research passed through three key phases. The first phase comprised a literature survey and review. The second phase involved a household survey to gather some baseline socio-economic and physical data that helped to fill the void of basic data. A total of 142 respondents participated in the survey, representing 10% of the total number of households in the area. The third phase involved the collection of qualitative data through focus group discussions and individual interviews. Findings – Slum dwellers have skills and formal education equivalent to those in the Global North. Nevertheless, Nigerians tend to view entrepreneurial activities as secondary to other forms of employment, especially positions in the public sector. Paradoxically, slum dwellers place little trust in state authorities. Security of tenure is a major barrier to expanding entrepreneurial activities, as many landlords are reluctant to permit tenants to operate home-based enterprises, which is often a neglected element of place-based development strategies. Research and practical implications – The chapter demonstrates the need for basic socio-economic datasets alongside user perspectives to shape the efficacy of development initiatives. In the case of Kpirikpiri, slum improvement programmes may have benefited from parallel educational programmes that expound the virtues of entrepreneurialism and concomitant training schemes, improved governance open to local social networks, less emphasis on physical upgrading of some forms of infrastructure and greater attention towards improving security of tenure as a path towards generating more home-b ased enterprises. Originality/value of paper – The entrepreneurial potential of the inhabitants of informal settlements is under-acknowledged in ‘upgrading’ interventions and also underplayed in the research literature. The chapter draws some much needed critical attention to the opportunities and barriers facing inhabitants of informal settlements, which helps to challenge some dominant transnational policy assumptions.
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