Entrepreneurs or Ekers? Neoliberalism and the Plight of the Youth in Kagera Region, Tanzania

Lucius Mugisha, Huruma Luhuvilo Sigalla


Abstract This paper discusses the socioeconomic conditions that push and pull the youth into entrepreneurial activities in Kagera Region, Tanzania. In so doing, it interrogates the increasingly catchy concepts of necessity entrepreneurs, opportunity entrepreneurs, and interventionist entrepreneurs in the literature on youth (un)employment. The study employs Harvey’s concept of accumulation by dispossession and Foucault’s concept of bi-politics. Data were collected through a case study approach in which 60 youths engaged in entrepreneurial activities were interviewed in Bukoba Municipality and Kyerwa District. Documentary review and observation were also used to collect data. Findings indicate that the decline in agricultural production—especially coffee and bananas—is the main factor that ultimately pushes people from the countryside into urban areas. Lastly, the paper concludes that the bio-political techniques that represent the youth as entrepreneurs, is just an exaggeration: they are merely ekers who struggle to make ends meet. Thus, entrepreneurial skills should be about revitalizing productive activities, which employ most of the people, including youths


entrepreneurs, youth, accumulation by dispossession, bio-politics, Kagera Region, Tanzania

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