Integrated rural development under the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy is a key operational framework for achieving sustainable economic growth where rural industrialisation is earmarked as a strategy for achieving production diversity, creation of employment, reduction of poverty and curbing rural-urban migration. Entrepreneurship development has been central to this process. Existing models offer three key components for entrepreneurship development; the supportive and cooperative environments and entrepreneurial orientation. Efforts to create the supportive and cooperative environments for entrepreneurship development in Malawi have existed since the 1970s. However, lack of significant entrepreneurship development raises questions on the entrepreneurial orientation of the rural communities targeted with supporting efforts. The research investigated entrepreneurial orientation of 162 participants in two rural areas of Malawi. The results first confirm that practice of entrepreneurship is predominantly at income generating activities level. Entrepreneurship is affected by poverty, low levels of education and lack of technical and enterprise management skills. The practice of entrepreneurship is driven by push factors as such as lack of employment and no alternative sources of income to earn a living. These results do support previous empirical studies. The research however found positive mind sets and orientation towards entrepreneurship. There are positive entrepreneurial attitudes and intentions in the rural areas in Malawi. The intentions are influences by the respondents’ perceived desirability of entrepreneurship, their perceived feasibility that informs positive attitude towards entrepreneurship. These results support the theory of planned behaviour that attitude, perceived feasibility and perceived desirability are the antecedents of entrepreneurial intentions. The research further found that education and training significantly affected entrepreneurship practice but availability of finance does not affect entrepreneurial intentions. The results of this research therefore call for a review of entrepreneurship development strategies and models because despite proving the existence of entrepreneurial orientation in particular rural contexts where supportive and cooperative environments do exist, entrepreneurship has not developed to contribute to economic growth. That demonstrates the inadequacy of the existing models to guide entrepreneurship development in practice. Practical models are required that can offer guidance for entrepreneurship development in rural economies to help achieve economic growth and development.
Key words: Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial attitudes and intentions, entrepreneurial orientation.
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