Careers of commercially successful female entrepreneurs in context of underdeveloped markets and weak institutions

David Sarpong*, Richard Nyuur, Mabel Torbor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – Careers have come to dominate contemporary discourse on gendered entrepreneurship. In this paper, we explore entrepreneurial careers as recounted by commercially successful female entrepreneurs to examine how they strategize to construct desirable careers in contexts characterized by underdeveloped markets and weak institutions.

Design/methodology/approach – Using a qualitative research design, data for our inquiry comes from publicly available life-history accounts of twenty female entrepreneurs appearing on an enterprise focus television show in Nigeria. We supplemented our television interview data with archival data in the form of publicly available digital footprints of the entrepreneurs collected from their company websites, magazines, online newspapers featuring these entrepreneurs, and their social media pages such as LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Facebook, and Instagram.

Findings – The careers of female entrepreneurs operating in context of underdeveloped institution and markets, we found, are characterized by four heterogeneous ingrained dispositions and actions reflecting how they got in and got on with their entrepreneurial careers: (a) ‘Observing and playing business’ (b) traipsing the ‘path less travelled’ (3) a hook to the ‘Pierian spring’ of entrepreneurship, and (4) ‘grace under pressure’ in decision-making.

Originality/value – We contribute to the entrepreneurship literature by providing insight into the lived experiences, agency, and careers of commercially successful female entrepreneurs as played out in the form of a contextual practice of ‘wayfinding’ to starting up and managing their own business ventures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-719
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research
Issue number3
Early online date24 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2022


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