Accepted Paper:

Bricolage and informal businesses: young entrepreneurs in the mobile telephony sector in Accra, Ghana  
Robert Lawrence Afutu-Kotey (University of Ghana)Katherine Gough (Loughborough University)

Paper short abstract:

Utilising qualitative longitudinal life trajectory and biographical interviews, this paper documents the bricolage experiences of young informal economy proletariat in Accra, Ghana, in their attempt at sustaining and driving their businesses into the future.

Paper long abstract:

The concept of bricolage has primarily been used in exploring how entrepreneurs in the formal sector, in addition to social entrepreneurs, mobilise resources in developing their businesses. Little is known, however, about the bricolage experiences of young informal entrepreneurs in the rapidly changing technologically driven mobile telephony sector. Drawing on longitudinal qualitative field research on young people involved in informal support services in the mobile telephony sector in Accra, Ghana, the paper reveals the existence of various kinds of bricolage processes employed in the running and sustenance of their businesses. The findings show evidence of the young people switching from one business to another, engaging in business diversification, utilising pre-existing skills, and employing bottom-up approaches through their social networks in mobilising resources - all of which relate to bricolage processes of improvisation, making do and refusing to be constrained by limitations in the resource environment. Although young people are shown to utilise strategies of self-support and ingenuity in running and sustaining their businesses, the paper concludes by calling for a more supportive institutional framework in order to propel the businesses of the young people into the future.

Panel Anth30
Business at work: new ethnographies of private sector dynamics in Africa