Self-employment and enterprise in developed national contexts of poverty

Laura Jackman, Laura Galloway, Isla Kapasi (ZWS), Rebecca Stirzaker (Uni of South Eastern Norway, Mike Danson, Kate Sang, James Richards, Anne Smith (GCU), Geoff Whittam (GCU)

Entrepreneurship, often arising from adverse socio-economic conditions, has become a prevalent outcome in the context of poverty. This research project aims to foster an evidence-based and inclusive dialogue surrounding enterprise for individuals facing low incomes within developed national contexts. By focusing on the dynamics of self-employment in impoverished settings, the study seeks to shed light on the nuanced factors influencing the entrepreneurial landscape.

Key objectives

Involuntary Entrepreneurship – The study investigates the phenomenon of entrepreneurship as an involuntary outcome, particularly among individuals facing challenging socio-economic circumstances. Understanding the motivations behind this form of entrepreneurship is crucial for policy development and support systems.

Life Situations and Industry Norms – Findings reveal that enterprise often emerges as a response to significant life situations such as ill health, care giving duties, or industry norms. The study explicates the diverse factors shaping individuals’ decision to enter the entrepreneurial domain.

Scaling Challenges – The project identifies that many individuals remain confined to low-income activities due to the inherent scalability constraints of their endeavours. This knowledge is useful for formulating strategies that facilitate upward mobility within the entrepreneurial landscape.

Policy implications

The findings of this research have direct implications for policy development and implementation, focusing on the deign of targeted interventions to alleviate constraints and foster sustainable entrepreneurship for those facing socio-economic challenges.  

For further insights, please refer to the report “In-work Poverty and Enterprise: Self-employment and Business Ownership as Contexts of Poverty” available here through Heriot-Watt University.

Academic publications associated with the project

  • Danson, M., Galloway, L. & Sherif, M. (2021) From unemployment to self-employment: can enterprise policy intensify the risks of poverty? Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 75, 1045-2354
  • Jackman, L., Galloway, L., Kapasi, I., Stirzaker, R. & Mihut, A. (2021) Good option or only option? Poverty, disability, incapacity and enterprise, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research 27(8), 2079-2095
  • Kapasi, I., Stirzaker, R, Galloway, L. Jackman, L & Mihut, A (2022) ‘The (mixed) motivations of those engaged in enterprise and experiencing poverty’ in Pickernell, Battisti, Dann, Ekinsmyth and (eds.) Disadvantaged Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Emerald
  • Smith, A., Galloway, L., Jackman, L., Danson, M. & Whittam, G. (2018) Poverty, social exclusion and enterprise policy A study of UK policies’ effectiveness over 40 years. International Journal of Entrepreneurship & Innovation 20(2), 107-118

Infographic: Enterprise on Low Income