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Back to the Future: A Search for Economic Progress or Roots? A Comparison of Experiences Between African American Entrepreneurs in South Africa and in the United States (Text)

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  • This study addresses some of the challenges and opportunities that African Americans encounter in their quest for economic and personal progress. Further, the study implies that minority entrepreneurs are a special breed of entrepreneur, combining personal, professional, and financial success with that of shared-identity peers. African American entrepreneurs' views of success transcend personal financial gain to incorporate economic and civic progress with those with whom they share identity. Twenty African American entrepreneurs in South Africa and in the United States were interviewed. These individuals were identified through various local and government agencies, as well as through individuals who are in contact with Norfolk State University. I collected the data from these persons in South Africa and in Virginia. The data were evaluated analyzed by two professors, two entrepreneurs, and by me, and the results are an agreed upon compilation of the findings by each of us. Within the framework of entrepreneurship and using the qualitative methodology, this inquiry compares the experiences of African Americans in The Republic of South Africa to African Americans in the United States (US). My original premise was that African American entrepreneurs in South Africa and in the US became entrepreneurs to escape American corporate racism. In addtion, I hypothesized that those in South Africa were more interested in nation building than their US counterparts and those those in South Africa defined success more altruistically than those in the US. Finally, I postulated that those who moved to South Africa were seeking a "homeland," validity, and self esteem. The results indicate that although racism does account for some of the individuals becoming entrepreneurs, generally, it was the older entrepreneurs who were motivated to entrepreneurship by corporate racism. For the most part, the younger group did not regard corporate racism as a factor in their becoming entrepreneurs. In addition, both groups are actively involved in nation-building, and entrepreneurs in South Africa and in the US define success similarly. Finally, the search for homeland, validity, and self-esteem by those who have moved to South Africa was confirmed. This investigation suggests that individuals who return to their native homelands may encounter difficulties they may not have anticipated in the process of acclimatization in the new environment. Further, the US may be losing valuable job-producing individuals who are not willing to tolerate the confining environment of corporate America. This examination implies that African Americans are now interested in creating and building community in South Africa and in the US. However, in South Africa, these individuals are welcomed and highly regarded for the skills they bring and for the color of their skin, in contrast to the US where some feel their skin color has been a barrier to their success. Finally, while African Americans have made significant econimic progress over the last 30 years, they contineu to experience many of the same problems of the past. Though not as much as historially, discrimination and racism in the US continue to be problematic. Some African Americans are choosing to remove themselves from these obstacles by relocating to a different country. In addition, many are moving to the South (US) where, paradoxically, they feel more welcome than in the past. African Americans are pursuing their economic and personal goals in places where they perceive they are appreciated and valued. Further, for African Americans entrepreneurs in South Africa and in the US, economic progress apears to be less important than reaching personal fulfillment and contributing to society.
  • 2000-01
  • English
  • text
  • application/pdf
  • 157 p
  • ksl:weaedm10
Identifier ksl:weaedm10,
Access Rights Open Access
RIS Citation


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Weatherhead Doctor of Management Programs