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What do we know about international entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa?

Ibeh, K.I.N. (2004) What do we know about international entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa? In: 7th McGill International Conference on International Entrepreneurship, 2004-09-17 - 2004-09-20. (Unpublished)

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This paper aims to improve overall understanding of international entrepreneurship [IE] behaviour of SSA firms, by appraising and integrating evidence from 25 relevant SSA-focused studies. It responds to the germane calls for greater research and policy attention to firm-level international entrepreneurship behaviour in SSA; this is particularly important given the widely agreed association between firm internationalisation and national economic growth (Soderbom and Teal, 2001, 2003). The study's major conclusions include: an observed upward trend in IE activities among SSA firms, particularly in those product areas that the region seems to enjoy some factor advantages; a significant amount of informal exporting, which indicates a potential for further growth in firm-level IE within SSA; the criticality of a strong base of managerial and organisational resources and skill-sets for favourable IE performance (including exporting start, deepening international involvement, and tapping into the potential benefits of 'internetisation'); and the relevance of formal and informal networks and relationships in complementing the relatively modest resource/competency base of SSA firms, and improving their access to, and performance in, international markets. Based on the totality of the review evidence, the paper calls on relevant governments and policy makers to: encourage greater international venturing among suitable SSA firms in view of the organisational learning benefits of so doing (Soderbom and Teal, 2003; Bigsten et al. 2004); encourage current exporters, including those that started out as 'distress' exporters, or informal exporters, to deepen their international involvement level; facilitate business linkages between SSA firms and other important actors in local, regional and international markets; and to get on with the business of creating more enabling environments, and lowering the transaction costs of operating within SSA. The on-going multilateral efforts to encourage increased participation of SSA firms in global trade must also embody appropriately targeted capacity building measures, both managerial and organisational; and the World's corporate giants and investors must show greater resolve to confronting Africa's developmental challenge, by unleashing their investment resources on the many and varied opportunities offered by the continent.