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Entrepreneurship and Identity among a group of Ghanaian women in Durban (South Africa)

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dc.contributor.advisor Buijs, G.C.V
dc.contributor.author Ojong, Vivian Besem A.
dc.date.accessioned 2010-01-27T09:49:17Z
dc.date.available 2010-01-27T09:49:17Z
dc.date.issued 2005
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10530/199
dc.description Thesis submitted for the fulfilment of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy,in the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Zululand, 2005. en_US
dc.description.abstract African migrant entrepreneurship is fast becoming an increasingly important part of discourses of African migration to South Africa. This field of study is new in South Africa, because African women’s transnational activities have been neglected until now in studies on African entrepreneurship in South Africa. As Ghanaian women in South Africa through their entrepreneurial activities provided the background through which this researcher has initiated a discursive space, it has paved the way for Ghanaian transnational entrepreneurship to become an intellectual field. It is hoped that this study will become a starting point from which African women’s cross-border engagements can be viewed. Interrogating entrepreneurship through ‘cultural lenses’, this study reveals that the drive to succeed entrepreneurially and the spirit of entrepreneurship lie within certain groups of people, since they are embedded in peoples’ culture. Thus Ghanaian women have a high propensity to be engaged in entrepreneurial activities, even when they are living ans working in other countries. This study hopes to demonstrate that a shared culture facilitates entrepreneurial performance. The thesis has explored how their identity as Ghanaians in South Africa promotes their ability to succeed. This is because in post-apartheid South Africa, being a Ghanaian woman is being interpreted by South African blacks as knowing how to dress hair professionally. The findings indicate that although being first generation migrants, these women have developed hybrid and cosmopolitan identities in the manner in which they carry out their entrepreneurial activities. This has been facilitated by the researcher’s attempt to locate the women’s entrepreneurial activities within a historical context of identity formation and the contemporary melange of their identity in South Africa. The evidence suggests that there exists a symbiotic relationship between being a Ghanaian woman in South Africa and the tendency to succeed entrepreneurially, especially in the field of hair dressing. Their ‘maniere de fait’ allows them to be defined as a group of successful entrepreneurs. These women are also desperate to succeed because they are expected to send remittances home to their families and friends and also to participate in community projects in Ghana. Success is primarily judged by the assets they have acquired back in Ghana and their ability to bring family members to join them in the diaspora. These Ghanaian women are succeeding in this sector because after the fall of apartheid, hair care has become a major indicator of modernity for black South African women. This entrepreneurial area that these women have gotten into is one that has considerable opportunities for growth because black women after apartheid are earning more money and they want to spend that money on their appearance. The best way to show that they are modern is by keeping up with the latest hairstyles. This research has demonstrated that Ghanaian women’s entrepreneurship is producing benefits for South Africa. Coming from a system of apartheid where black South African women were not given the opportunity of knowing how to dress hair in what seems like western fashion, Ghanaian women have brought in these hairdressing skills and transmitted them to South Africans. These skills are being used by these South Africans as a source of both social development and economic empowerment. By providing employment to some South Africans (who before their encounter with Ghanaians were unemployed because of lack of skills), they are not only transmitting skills but providing for the daily needs of entire families. This sort of contribution by Ghanaians to the economy of South Africa is rewarding and represents a sufficient opportunity for recognition by the South African government. The study also reveals that in transnationalism, gender becomes unimportant. While the opportunistic tendency of migrants is given ‘the front seat’, gender is given ‘the back seat’. Through the need to migrate and the opportunistic tendency of migrants, hairdressing has produced a distinct social place in which Ghanaian men have hijacked a cultural space which had been a female domain as they have become hairdressers in South Africa as well as Ghanaian women. This research has also shown that religion and entrepreneurship are ‘bedfellows’. This is demonstrated by the fact that Ghanaian women believe that Christianity lies in the shadows of their business activities. Therefore, they see their businesses as a way of carrying out God’s redemptive plan and as one of God’s divine plans for them which gives significance to what they do. These values have been transmitted through different structures like schools and churches in Ghana and forms part of the socialisation process for children. When people who come from Ghana grow up, it becomes difficult for them to distance themselves from these values. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher University of Zululand
dc.subject Entrepreneurship en_US
dc.subject African migration en_US
dc.title Entrepreneurship and Identity among a group of Ghanaian women in Durban (South Africa) en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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