Sustainable entrepreneurial processes in bottom-of-the-pyramid settings
Musona, Jackson (2021-12-10)
Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT
Acta Universitatis Lappeenrantaensis
School of Business and Management
School of Business and Management, Kauppatieteet
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Sustainable entrepreneurship (SE) is an important driver of sustainable economic growth. Sustainable entrepreneurs are thought to be change agents committed to balancing the economic viability, social welfare and environmental protection aspects of an enterprise. In low-income settings, SE can build livelihood means for the impoverished while providing for the sustenance of the wellbeing of marginalised communities and the environment. However, the entrepreneurial action literature lacks explanations and an understanding of how individuals in underdeveloped bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) settings can engage in entrepreneurship and innovation activities that jointly create social, economic and ecological values. Most lowincome entrepreneurship studies tended to focus on entrepreneurship as a solution to poverty. As a result, combining poverty alleviation and environmental management through incomegenerating entrepreneurial activities in penurious environments has been little explored. Developing economies are characterised by extreme resource constraints, which affect entrepreneurial activity. To an extent, individuals’ perception of resource constraints influences the decisions they make and action they take to achieve desired entrepreneurial goals and outcomes. This doctoral dissertation therefore seeks to address this gap in the literature. It employs an exploratory qualitative approach based on multiple case studies and interviews. The empirical data is composed of 11 sustainable entrepreneurs: nine in Kenya, one in Zambia and one in South Africa. The cases are in the renewable energy, solid waste management and sustainable agriculture sectors. The data were complemented by archival material and analysed inductively and deductively through grounded theory and thematic analysis approaches. By so doing, this dissertation enhances our understanding of SE in impoverished settings by conceptualising it through four multi-level mechanisms of i) resourcefulness, ii) hybridity based on multiple logics, iii) innovative business models and iv) an enabling business and social context. Thus, the findings contribute to the broader entrepreneurship literature by proposing a nuanced framework of SE in underdeveloped BOP regions. The framework shows an amalgamation of entrepreneur-, enterprise- and contextual-level dimensions for engaging in an entrepreneurial activity that jointly focuses on the triple-bottom-line (TBL) of economic, social and environmental goals. Thus, it illustrates the potential of BOP entrepreneurial activities in contributing to poverty alleviation and sustainable development. For practitioners, the study findings offer strategies for creating an enabling business and social context.
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