Original Research

Positive deviant unemployed individuals: Survivalist entrepreneurs in marginalised communities

Melinda du Toit, Hans de Witte, Sebastiaan Rothmann, Anja van den Broeck
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 51, No 1 | a1627 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v51i1.1627 | © 2020 Melinda du Toit, Hans de Witte, Sebastiaan Rothmann, Anja van den Broeck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 May 2019 | Published: 29 September 2020

About the author(s)

Melinda du Toit, The Center for Social Development in Africa (CSDA), University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Hans de Witte, Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa; and Department of Research Group Work Organisational and Personnel Psychology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Sebastiaan Rothmann, Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
Anja van den Broeck, Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa; and Work and Organization Studies, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


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Abstract

Purpose: This exploratory study aimed to provide a description of the experiences and perceptions of survivalist entrepreneurs in under-resourced communities. These survivalist entrepreneurs perceived themselves as ‘temporary’ entrepreneurs. They engaged in entrepreneurial ventures, whilst actively searching for secure formal employment.

Design/methodology/approach: Qualitative interviews were conducted with four informal survivalist microenterprise entrepreneurs (ISM-E entrepreneurs). Narratives relating to their experiences and perceptions of their environment, community and government support and their experience of owning a microenterprise in an impoverished community were analysed inductively.

Findings/results: Fourteen themes were identified and were grouped under two broad topics, namely the characterisation of the entrepreneur and the surrounding setting of the ISM-E entrepreneur. The discussion of the findings was presented in a positive deviance framework.

Practical implications: It was proposed that the ingenuity and strengths of these ISM-E entrepreneurs be acknowledged and that their positive discourses be cultivated and encouraged in order to inspire unemployed people around them. These ISM-E entrepreneurs could, ideally, point social scientists to possible context-appropriate solutions to the huge unemployment challenge experienced in disadvantaged communities.

Originality/value: This study addresses a knowledge gap pertaining to the exploration of micro-entrepreneurship in under-resourced communities within a positive deviance framework.


Keywords

unemployment; positive deviance; under-resourced communities; microbusiness entrepreneurs; informal entrepreneurs; South Africa.

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