Religious Beliefs and Entrepreneurial Behaviors in Africa: A Case Study of the Informal Sector in Uganda

Rebecca Namatovu, Samuel Dawa, Adeyinka Adewale, Fiona Mulira

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Religion plays a major role in Africa’s polity and its influence on the business landscape of the continent has been acknowledged in literature. This study contributes to the discourse by investigating and explaining how religious beliefs shape entrepreneurial behaviors in Uganda’s informal sector. Using a qualitative methodology, we explored how entrepreneurs in the context use or adopt religious beliefs in their entrepreneurial activities. By spanning a diverse set of entrepreneurial activities in the informal sector − food vendors, fabricators, hawkers, and recyclers among others − we conducted 49 in-depth interviews. Our findings reveal that the entrepreneurs relied on their religious beliefs in defining and coping with a penurious context. Further to this, we explain how religious beliefs galvanize business behaviors and calibrate the entrepreneurial identities of respondents in the context. To facilitate future work, the study highlights how knowledge gaps in the cultural and social setup of the informal economy will produce new insights in entrepreneurship research. It concludes by guiding policymakers and educators to engage and involve faith-based institutions in the entrepreneurship promotion agenda.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAfrica Journal of Management
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)259-281
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Religious beliefs
  • Entrepreneurial behavior
  • Informality
  • Africa

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