Category Archives: Informal Entrepreneurship

How DIY Biology can Improve Access to Digital Agricultural Technologies

By Vipal Jain Digital agricultural research is transforming the way crops are developed. New tools can speed up the ability to produce crops with higher yields that require less resources. Crops can be modified to become resistant to heat, cold, drought and disease to help tackle food security. But gaps in policy, research and the … Continue reading How DIY Biology can Improve Access to Digital Agricultural Technologies


Making at AFRICAOSH Summit 2018

By Outlwile Maselwanyane  The first gathering for Africa Open Science & Hardware (AfricaOSH) was hosted by Kumasi Hive innovation hub, Kumasi, Ghana, on April 13-15 2018. AfricaOSH is a diverse, global community working to enhance the sharing of open, scientific technologies in Africa. The summit gathered together makers, practitioners, civil society, academics and researchers from … Continue reading Making at AFRICAOSH Summit 2018


Maker spaces in developing countries: Sites of innovation despite simultaneous challenges

by Mohamed Hosny In the past few years, there have been several initiatives to help entrepreneurs introduce new creative and innovative products that break from prevalent manufacturing models. This is particularly the case given the growth over the past two decades of industrialization to a global scale for the manufacturing of consumer goods, notably in … Continue reading Maker spaces in developing countries: Sites of innovation despite simultaneous challenges


Egypt’s New Investment Law: Creating Better Opportunities for Small Businesses?

By Sarah El Saeed The Egyptian Government has begun in pushing through a fiscal and monetary reform plan that includes various unpopular austerity measures. In the first quarter of 2017, inflation hit a 30-year high of 31.5%, following several state subsidy cuts being made. The value of the Egypt pound has also declined by more … Continue reading Egypt’s New Investment Law: Creating Better Opportunities for Small Businesses?


Financing of Innovation

By Eslam Shaaban   For decades, Kodak was a global giant in the photography industry all over the world. Over the past decade, however, their business gradually started to fall to where Kodak is now bankrupt. Why has Kodak failed and vanished? The answer to this is resistance to change. In a digital age that … Continue reading Financing of Innovation


Open AIR Expansion into Morocco

By Sara Yassine Over the past six months, the Research Laboratory Entrepreneurship and Management of Organizations (LABO-EMO) and Open AIR have been looking at ways to collaborate on research and activities. The LABO-EMO is a top-tier research unit at Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco, under the Faculty of Administration and Law. About the LABO-EMO … Continue reading Open AIR Expansion into Morocco


Africa’s Maker Movement: An Overview of Ongoing Research

Makerspaces are places where people gather to build projects, learn new technologies, and develop entrepreneurial opportunities. Open AIR is conducting research on makerspaces across the African continent.


Strengthening innovation support systems at Ghana’s Suame Magazine

In my previous blog on skills development and innovation at Ghana’s Suame Magazine, I showed how the high level of collaboration and sharing of knowledge and skills within the cluster is contributing to innovation. Further, I provided some preliminary findings on the inability of these artisans’ to keep pace with the changing technology landscape. I also found that few artisans expressed interest in joining or maintaining a membership with local trade associations due to these associations’ inability to implement their key mandate of skills development and facilitation of business for members and firms.


Exploring Crowd-Based Capitalism in Africa’s Sharing Economy

The sharing economy has been growing at an ever-accelerating pace throughout the world as peer-to-peer networks and collaborative company models continue to pop up. The sharing economy, according to Rachel Botsman, is “an economic model based on sharing underutilized assets, from spaces to skills to stuff, for monetary or non-monetary benefits.” They often involve platforms that enable the exchange of services between peers or businesses. Arun Sundarajan explains the sharing economy somewhat differently: “What is new, in the “sharing economy,” is that you are not helping a friend for free; you are providing these services to a stranger for money.” He describes this as “crowd-based capitalism.”


Innovation by “makers” in South Africa’s Gauteng Province

The “Makers” who come together to tinker and hack in the maker collectives of South Africa’s Gauteng Province display a wide range of innovation practices, our research for Open AIR has found.

Our study, Collaboration and Appropriation in Gauteng Makerspaces, investigated the activities of eight Gauteng maker collectives. The findings have now been published in Open AIR Working Paper 6, entitled The Maker Movement in Gauteng Province, South Africa.


Challenging the Meaning of Innovation: Lessons from Refugee-Founded Organizations in Kampala

There is often a limited and constricted view of African innovation, especially when it comes to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). While there is the common perception that refugees on the continent are resilient, innovative, and resourceful, it is only in the sense that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Too often, refugees and IDPs are perceived as persons with only needs. The reality is that refugees and IDPs are just like everyone else and bring many skills, ideas, and innovations to the global marketplace, both the marketplace of ideas and of goods.


Open AIR hosts South African Maker Movement Workshop

Enthusiasts and researchers gathered on Friday, March 3, 2017 to share research on the growing African maker movement. The workshop was hosted at the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa.


Understanding Knowledge Dynamics and Scaling-up in Micro Enterprises in Otigba Market Cluster

In part 1, I discussed our preliminary findings from 73 field interviews conducted by my team and I in the Otigba Market Cluster. Since then we have conducted an additional 123 interviews, making a total of 200 interviews in all. In this second post, I will discuss more on the kind of innovations in the cluster, how MSMEs in the cluster scale-up, and the impact of knowledge sharing on MSMEs’ innovativeness.


Skills Development and Innovation at Suame Magazine, Ghana

Funded by the Open AIR network, my case study is about skills development and innovation at Ghana’s Suame Magazine Industrial Cluster. The research I am conducting seeks to understand the processes and systems that contribute to how knowledge is or is not shared and how skills are acquired in one of West Africa’s largest informal sector industrial clusters, Suame Magazine. How skills are learned and what is communicated between those in the industrial cluster will help us to learn how innovations are shared and taught among these informal businesses.


Understanding the Dynamics of Knowledge Transfer in Nigeria’s Otigba Hardware Cluster

So what is the Otigba Computer Village? Oyelaran-Oyeyinka in 2006 described it as the biggest ICT hub of West Africa – perhaps the biggest ICT market in all of Africa – because of the size and the volume of business activities carried out on a daily basis within the cluster. The research I have been conducting looks at the knowledge dynamics at play in the informal ICT businesses in the cluster, with a view to understanding how these dynamics drive informal enterprises’ innovation and scaling-up. While other studies of the cluster have evaluated the size and capacity of the cluster, the evolution of the cluster, mode of operation, performance, sustainability and constraints, there are no studies looking at how the local businesses identify new and useful knowledge. With over 5000 businesses in the cluster, there is bound to be knowledge exchange either through spillover or conscious transfer. How is this happening?