Effects of Thinking Entrepreneurially on Traditional Development Approaches: Sustaining Central Kenya's Rural Smallholder Farmers

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On the slopes Central Kenya's fertile highland area, small coffee farmers gather to discuss 1) the renewed policy initiatives by the Government to rejuvenate the coffee sector in the wake of increased poverty instances and 2) the declining revenues from their only source of income they have known since the crop was introduced in Kenya early 20th century. Their collective thinking is not misplaced. They have sensed that despite the effort by policy makers to encourage coffee growing, the opportunity cost is too high and that that there could be other sources of income that are more lucrative. Whilst some of the farmers have opted to abandon the crop, others still hope there is potential owing to the fact that second tier coffee entrepreneurs (processors and exporters) are raking in profits. The farmers are thinking entrepreneurially yet the Government perceives coffee (Once the largest foreign exchange earner) as central to the country’s development.

Hypothesis

What are these poor farmers really up to? They are part of the new Kenyan rural community with sufficient education to question policy initiatives towards poverty alleviation in the country. For many decades the rural population were characterised as poorly educated that would take any government prescriptions faith-accompli. Theoretically, implying that development in rural areas should be directed rather than consultatively and exploiting opportunities maximally (entrepreneurially). Several key issues arise from this hypothesis including: How should opportunities be recognized? At what point does one disembark from a “dieing horse”)?

Method

Given the nature of this study, this initial phase would be essentially exploratory and therefore, a qualitative, inductive approach based upon open-ended interviews is most appropriate (Fontana and Frey, 2000). The unstructured approach is advantageous, because it: highlights areas of concern to the interviewee; captures attitudinal and perceptual data (Wilson, 1996). Increased democratic space in Kenya is creating a situation leading to independent thinking by rural farmers to the extent of challenging policy makers as to what strategy that indeed would eliminate poverty in rural Kenya.

Implications

The aims to highlight some of. the significant changes among rural communities and ways of effectively implementing policy initiatives. Additionally, shall help rural communities to evaluate their projects in order to maximally benefit.


Keywords: Rural Enterprise, Opportunity Recognition, Opportunity Recognition, Sustainable Strategies
Stream: Economic Sustainability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Robert Kagiri Mwihia

Doctoral Student, School of Business, University of Nairobi
Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

Currently researching for my dissertation on Knowledge Management, Competency, and Competitiveness. Have extensive training and experience in the publishing and printing industry. Academic areas of interest are Strategy, Investment, knowledge Management and Publishing.

Ref: S08P0002