Mittwoch, 15. Mai 2019, 17:00 - 18:30 iCal

Wednesday Seminar

Empowering the Third Billion: Corporate Patronage and Clientelism through Inclusive Markets

Dinah Rajak

Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie, HS-C
Universitätsstraße 7, NIG, 4. Stock, 1010 Wien


Once deemed the ‘hopeless continent’, Africa has been resurrected as a source of economic optimism—a site of investment, growth and buoyant labor markets (The Economist 2000, 2011). Within this context, development donors and transnational corporations champion the power of inclusive markets to redress decades of jobless growth by incorporating the poor and marginalised into new models of financial inclusion and entrepreneurship. Women, held up as development’s greatest asset, have been at the forefront of such initiatives, as novel coalitions of corporations, donors and social enterprises reposition them as ‘entrepreneurs’, who will drive forward economic and social transformation. This paper examines the inclusive market agenda ethnographically by tracing the experience of a small women-owned enterprise based in Nairobi, Kenya – Mkiwa Designs - on its journey to inclusion in the global marketplace of Magasin, one of the world’s top twenty retailers. Chronicling the efforts of Mkiwa’s directors to scale up and empower their workers, we explore the relationship of corporate patronage and clientelism that unfolds in the enactment of this promise of market inclusion. We find that the conversion required to attain anticipated rewards of the global marketplace, leaves small enterprises like Mkiwa, constrained, rather than free; leveraged and dependent rather than secure and autonomous. The inclusive market, we suggest, becomes a vehicle of unfulfilled aspiration and opportunity foreclosed, a space of clientelism that falls short of its empowerment and inclusionary ideals.

Dinah Rajak is a Reader in anthropology and development. She holds a BA in Classics from Oxford University (Somerville College 1996-2000); a Masters in the Anthropology of Development and Social Transformation (2000-2001), and a DPhil in Social Anthropology (2003-7) from the University of Sussex. Between 2001 and 2003 she worked as a research fellow for a DFID-funded project concerned with rural livelihoods and aquaculture in South and South East Asia. Dinah's research interests lie at the intersection of the anthropology of development and global capitalisms. In particular, my research concerns the role of transnational corporations in development, corporate social responsibility and moral economy, with a focus on the extractive industries and Sub-Saharan Africa. Other areas of interest include: economic empowerment, enterprise and entrepreneurialism; and the role of big business in the political economy of HIV/Aids management. Her current research explores 'bottom of the pyramid' approaches to development and concepts of inclusive markets. She is co-founder of the Centre for New Economies of Development (, author of In Good Company: An Anatomy of Corporate Social Responsibility and co-editor of The Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility (Berghahn 2016).

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Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie


Tabitha Schnoeller
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie