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African Entrepreneurs and International Coordination in Petty Businesses: The Case of Low-End Mobile Phones Sourcing in Hong Kong

Fu Lai Tony Yu and Diana S. Kwan

Journal of African Business, 2015, vol. 16, issue 1-2, 66-83

Abstract: This paper examines the contribution of African entrepreneurs to world trade through global coordination. Unlike the multinational giants which earn impressive profit through global sourcing, small African entrepreneurs survive by identifying opportunities in petty businesses and exploiting narrow profit margin. Through careful economic calculation, they buy low-end goods from one part of the globe and sell them in the other part. Their self-interest activities enhance global well-being. This paper begins with an Austrian perspective of international entrepreneurship and global coordination. The theory is illustrated by African entrepreneurs who source Shenzhen-made mobile phones in Hong Kong and sell them in Africa. By arbitraging price differentials, they earn pure entrepreneurial profit. A detailed case study of the global coordination of a Tanzanian entrepreneur will be presented. This paper concludes that, as a result of the effort of African entrepreneurs, low-end mobile phones manufactured in Shenzhen are shipped to Hong Kong and consumed by people in Tanzania, bringing benefits to all parties concerned. The case study fully illustrates the principle of the 'invisible hand' in the global market.

Date: 2015
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