Making Ends Meet
Entrepreneurship in a Bangladeshi Village
Acta Universitatis Tamperensis,
No. 1534


By Kazi Shahedul Halim
July 2010
Tampere University Press
Distributed By Coronet Books
ISBN: 9789514481246
254 pages
$82.50 Paper Original

This thesis focuses on petty business entrepreneurship as the most common non-agricultural source of income for villagers in Bangladesh. In addition, the study empirically examines the reasons for the emergence of petty business entrepreneurs in rural Bangladesh through an analysis of the relationship between the people involved in business and their economic necessities.

The study ties in with social anthropology and sociology. Its nature is inductive with the life and work of petty business entrepreneurs and connects the experiences of the entrepreneurs with theory of inequality and entrepreneurship.

The study primarily draws on detailed ethnographic evidence, from key informants´ interviews, group discussions and observations, which are supplemented by quantitative analyses of household surveys conducted in a village situated in northern Bangladesh.

In rural Bangladesh the presence of business activities is not a new phenomenon. Nevertheless, in the past the necessity of business involvement was impractical to villagers because everybody could survive with what their land produced. Unfortunately, nowadays traditional livelihoods in rural Bangladesh have come under severe pressure and become more and more incapable of providing subsistence to inhabitants. In this situation, livelihoods through petty business entrepreneurship have taken an unprecedented turn.

Businesses have been able to lift many households from the study village out of relative poverty, allowing many socially and economically disadvantaged households to gain economic success from working in petty business entrepreneurship. Involvement in business activities provides many households with the ability to survive adequately under prevailing conditions, where gaining a marginal level of livelihood was difficult for a large number of villagers.

The impact of diversification into petty businesses has been analysed on an individual, household and societal level. The increase in business activities has several substantial implications, such as indicating growing penetration of the market and cash economy. The trend towards business also creates openness within cross-class relations, clearly changing gender identities and also affecting gains in social capital.

Personal relations are important for the survival of petty business entrepreneurs. In fact, personal relations were found to be essential for business start-ups and strengthening business operations. Moreover, households were crucial for mobilising labour and other resources.

The petty business entrepreneurs in this study did not have the opportunity to earn a living vertically within society. Most of them thought of business entrepreneurship as their only option for the future. Pride in obtaining a better livelihood than before was important in the professional identity of the petty business entrepreneurs in my study.

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