Entrepreneurs play a central role in the economy by establishing firms, which in turn create markets and organisations. They are major contributors to economic growth, development and prosperity.
An entrepreneur is an innovator who makes a profit by meeting a demand not yet fulfilled or poorly fulfilled. This article explains the role culture plays on new venture creation.
Social structure is the number, distribution and proportions of the social classes in a given society. In Malawi, we have people who are well to do, middle class and those who are poor. Usually ,it is those who are well to do who keep on doing better while those who are poor become poorer and poorer. The poor do not believe that it is possible for them to reach the top once they can have self confidence. People start thinking that the rich were created to be rich and the poor to be poor forever. This type of thinking will not encourage an individual to even dare to venture into businesses.
In matrilineal societies where a husband resides at his wife’s home or village, and their children (mbumba)belong to the uncle (brother of husband’s wife) usually you will see that the man does not undertake development work in that village. He is there as a temporally person who may leave the place at any time whether voluntarily or if he has been chased by his wife or relatives of his wife once they disagree on one thing. Due to this reason, he does not have an interest of making anything tangible in that village for his household. He cannot start any business for fear of being snatched away by the relatives. He is in unsafe hands and environment.
Our culture makes most of the people believe that businesses are for young people not the elderly. The result is that the elderly think that there is no more for them to become fully fledged businessmen. In western countries most businesses are done by old people, that is why people say ‘life begins at 40’. Most business tycoons in Europe, Asia and America are old people but here in Malawi you will see that these businesses will be left with the youths.
Attitude towards work and Achievement
There is a feeling that one must live to work, and that work brings an intrinsic reward. Most Malawians think that they are there to work in offices and that their work will bring them reward and achieve whatever they want. There is no work which can give lots of cash at the end of the day compared to what an entrepreneur finds at the end of the day. Those people who are doing well are those who are running different type of businesses. This is a cultural attitude which is making people to be satisfied with their work.
Attitude towards time
Societies where the concept of ‘time is money’ is the norm as against cultures which are more laid back and do not see the need for strict time keeping or time management, do well in life. Most Malawians do not take time to be an essential thing in one’s life. Japan was once a poor country I terms of development but it is as it is now due to hard working, spend a lot of time working and also time management is their norm. Time in Malawi is ‘elastic’. When you agree to meet at 2 o’clock, people will start assembling at around 3 o’clock. Can these types of people venture into a business which demands most of their time?
Attitude towards risk
Malawians are always risk averse. This has been part of our culture. We do not an urge to invest to a challenging business venture because we fear that we are going to fail. If we can look at some who are doing fine now in their businesses, you will observe that they had not gone through simple times all the time.