Entrepreneurial Failures: Problematic Clients & the Politics of Loan Default
Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)
In Botswana, the multi-scalar promise of entrepreneurship may be a bright future of personal fulfillment and global economic inclusion for the nation, but the experiences and perceptions of those working to promote small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) differ markedly. Starting from the disappointments of staff and the broader public regarding state SMME-promotion initiatives, this dissertation chapter draft takes failure as its object, and proceeds with two types of analysis. First, I address failure as a meaningful experience that is both actively produced in everyday activities and historically situated. I suggest that the particular ways in which failure is understood serve to assign responsibility and point toward certain solutions (and not others), in effect locating objects of blame and rendering them actionable. Second, I put this failure to a critical questioning by focusing on one particular institutional embarrassment—the staggering amount of arrears owed to state SMME financing agencies by their clients. I argue that what is generally understood as a “metric of failure” here is able to tell a more interesting story about how policies with particular sets of intentions and underpinnings can be subverted and repurposed. In cases where policy implementation becomes an antagonistic process, as when certain principles are applied to a milieu in which others hold dominance, we might read the failure of the former as the success of the latter.
Hilary Chart is a dissertation writer in the Department of Anthropology. Her project on the pursuit and promotion of entrepreneurship in Botswana grows out of larger interests in changing characterizations of work and earnings, their relationship to education, and the shifting logics—including those of wage labor—that enforce resource distribution and its attendant inequalities.