Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson
Chapter 9: Basuto Culture and Entrepreneurship in Lesotho
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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