International Handbook of Research on Indigenous Entrepreneurship
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International Handbook of Research on Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson

The comprehensive and thoroughly accessible International Handbook of Research on Indigenous Entrepreneurship aims to develop a multidisciplinary theory explaining entrepreneurship as a function of cultural perceptions of opportunity. The Handbook presents a multitude of fascinating, superbly illustrated studies on the facets of entrepreneurship amongst indigenous peoples.
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Chapter 9: Basuto Culture and Entrepreneurship in Lesotho

Léo-Paul Dana


Léo-Paul Dana And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver and in gold. (Genesis, Chapter XIII) Introduction This chapter presents ethnographic accounts on Lesotho’s sociocultural and economic environment as an attempt to explain entrepreneurship or the lack of it in that society. Reflecting indigenous cultural values, exchange of wealth is culturally regulated in the economic system of Lesotho. Here a distinction is made between assets for personal use (which are transferable) and property with social value which, although maintained privately, is not freely sold. Unlike the situation in the many states where socialism was imposed by external forces and eventually collapsed, these socialist concepts in this mountain kingdom of southern Africa originate from within the culture. Lesotho’s socialism has been solely enforced by cultural custom rather than by political or military intervention and as such has gained strength for its survival today. This culturally enforced socialism contributes to the small business sector being unusual. The culture encourages entrepreneurship inasmuch as it values the accumulation of wealth; however the same culture hinders some aspects of entrepreneurial activity through value-laden perceptions of property. Based on ethnographic findings, this chapter illustrates the impact of culture on entrepreneurship in this landlocked kingdom. In this context, Western-style entrepreneurship development programmes are inadequate as the parameters of the culture are different. Some cultures evidently do not value Western-style entrepreneurial behaviour. Becker (1956) noted that some societies consider business an unholy occupation, and therefore, in those societies, foreigners are required to be the...

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