Mussa Idris presents paper at African Studies Association conference

Paper explains the ways in which Ethiopian and Eritrean migrants establish successful businesses in Washington D.C.

Elon instructor Mussa Idris presented a paper on Saturday, Nov.23, at the 56 annual meeting of the African Studies Association (ASA), in Baltimore, Maryland.

Idris’ paper examines business experiences among Ethiopian and Eritrean transnational migrants in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. His research primarily draws from ethnographic and entrepreneurial case studies, conducted in the summer of 2011, to explain how Ethiopian and Eritrean migrant entrepreneurs establish food and culture-centered businesses, such as the flatbread (Injera) and the coffee ceremony (Bun/a) entrepreneurship, as well as ethnic grocery shops.

These migrant entrepreneurs are able to succeed in Adams Morgan and the U Street Corridor, in D.C., even though they have limited business training, limited financial capital to start their business, and a background that does not promote entrepreneurship, as they typically come from subsistence agricultural economic systems.  Nonetheless, their social capital, personal savings, and entrepreneurial qualities contribute to their success.

This research project stems from Idris’ dissertation, titled Entrepreneurship Among the Ethiopian and Eritrean Migrants: Ethnographic Case Studies in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area. It includes 20 case studies for which data was collected through participant observation, in-depth interviews and the analysis of secondary sources.

The African Studies Association is the most important organization of its type in the United States and the world. Its annual conference attracts hundreds of researchers from Africa, the United States and beyond. This year’s topic for the annual conference was “Mobility, Migration and Flows.”