Understanding entrepreneurship at the base of the pyramid in developing countries : insights from small-scale vegetable farmers in Benin

Ahoudou Waliou Yessoufou

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Local small-scale entrepreneurship has recently become an important field of study and a tool for policymakers.  However, there are some practical and theoretical issues regarding the promotion of local entrepreneurship. First, the dynamics of entrepreneurship are considered to be universal, whereas the Base of the Pyramid (BoP)  context from Developing and Emerging (D&E) countries is different in terms of resource availability and institutional environment supporting production and transaction activities. Next, the prevailing conceptualization focuses on an individualistic and goal-oriented process which is determined by competencies related to alertness, recognition, and resource mobilization for the exploitation of opportunities, followed by business growth, whereas a multi-layered conceptualisation which transcends individual agent and structural-level analyses of entrepreneurship is required.  This thesis brought the model of the entrepreneurial action of small businesses to light and revealed that three subprocesses are driving the development of entrepreneurship in BoP. It inductively examined the behavioural patterns of agropreneurs. The thesis also provided new insights to the entrepreneurial orientation (EO) of small firms operating within the BoP, by showing that three traditional dimensions – innovativeness, proactiveness, and risk taking - are necessary but not sufficient to capture the manifestation of EO. Two new context-specific dimensions - resource-acquisition capability and collaborative orientation - emerged as part of the entrepreneurial orientation strategy. The thesis developped clear measurement of the EO, and a proper measurement model of the construct. Finally, the thesis demonstrated an inverted U-shaped relationship between EO and business performance. The findings suggested that increasing levels of EO appear beneficial up to a point, after which positive returns cease, and business performance begins to decline. Furthermore, increasing EO in tandem with networking promotes the success of BoP entrepreneurial process. These results have important theroretical and practical implications for the growth of small businesses in Benin and other developing countries with similar contextual characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Omta, S.W.F., Promotor
  • Blok, Vincent, Co-promotor
Award date22 Dec 2017
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463438216
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017


  • entrepreneurship
  • farmers
  • vegetables
  • small businesses
  • farm management
  • management science
  • benin
  • west africa


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