Returnee Entrepreneurship

Returnee Entrepreneurship

Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7631-0.ch010


The chapter reviews issues relating to return and transnational movements of the Black African diaspora entrepreneurs back to their countries of origin. The chapter analyzes and discusses issues on challenges and opportunities around returnee entrepreneurship and its associated development agenda. The chapter is developed from theoretical insights gathered from studies, which integrate returnee and capacity development literatures. Hence, an elaborate paradigm of the process through which Black African entrepreneur returnees evolve to facilitate the transfer of skills and knowledge for the development of their countries of origin is generated.
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The link between Black Africans’ migration and development in their countries of origin has always generated interest among international organizations, development agencies, and researchers particularly at a period when the global attention is eagerly anticipating the promise of Africa’s economic renaissance. Thus, one of the most significant current discussions in global business and economic development is the private sector active participation in economic development and job creation through entrepreneurship. All constituent sections of the economy are expected to play a part in the economic renewal, especially in the face of difficult economic situation pervading different parts of the global landscape. For example, amidst the continuous economic problems confronting the Africa continent (UNCTAD, 2014), entrepreneurship has become the centerpiece of socioeconomic mobility policies. Consequently, entrepreneurship is encouraged, sought, and fostered at all levels (e.g. individual, group, and corporate) and cadre (e.g. local, national and international) in various spatial and temporal dimensions. For instance, aside from supporting home-based entrepreneurs, African governments increasingly entice international entities (e.g. their nationals abroad and foreigners) to invest in Africa through entrepreneurial activities (Plaza & Ratha, 2011). Prominent among these international entities are the returnees who set up or have the capacity for enterprise in the country of origin.

Returnees are erstwhile foreign-based individuals who have returned to their homelands after spending some time in a foreign country. Their choices of return and the processes of reintegration are shaped by their personal discernment of the homeland which have social and historical implications (Al-Ali & Koser, 2002). Some returnees who involved themselves in enterprise and commerce are referred to as returnee entrepreneurs, although this group is not unknown, the literature on returnee entrepreneurship is less robust. The extent to which returnee entrepreneurs are assimilated (or alienated) into their countries of origin and their co-development agency is less discussed compared to diaspora and transnational entrepreneurs. While a number of studies (e.g. Ojo, Nwankwo, & Gbadamosi, 2013; Mayer, Harima, & Freiling, 2015; Åkesson & Baaz, 2015) have tracked the entrepreneurship trajectories of returnee Black Africans in their countries of origin there is limited understanding of the scope and scale of entrepreneurship in their home countries and of the growth pathway of their entrepreneurial activities. The impact of returnee entrepreneurs is being felt in countries of origin as they initiate and maintain business ventures through their activities (Dana, 1996a; Portes, Escobar, & Walton, 2007; Drori, Honig, & Wright, 2009; Ojo, Nwankwo, & Gbadamosi, 2013; Mayer, Harima, & Freiling, 2015). According to Mayer et al. (2015), returnee entrepreneurs partake in co-developmental events in their homelands through demonstrating the Schumpeterian innovative quality (Schumpeter, 1934) and directing novel, non-routine activities of business organizations (Baumol, 2002). They also take highly uncertain decisions linked with unique business situations (Knight, 1921) while making judgmental decisions on the allocation of scarce resources (Casson, 1982). Hence, the contributions of Black Africa returnee entrepreneurs as a tool for development interventions, of how they overcome challenges in strengthening, modifying and establishing new business ventures with the express aim of realizing their objectives are what this chapter seeks to explore.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Afro-Capitalism: Refers to the notion of the economic transformation of the Africa continent through Africans’ private investments based on the economy of emotional commitment that produces a uniquely empathetic business ethics.

Indigenous Direct Investment (IDI): Refers to investments made by the native or ethnic individuals into their country, which are distinguished from investments by foreigners.

Returnee Entrepreneurship: Refers to the economic activities of erstwhile foreign-based individuals who have returned to their homelands to start a business after spending some time in a foreign country.

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