Return Migration and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Highly Skilled Women in Nigeria's Technology Services Sector

George, Abiola (2024). Return Migration and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Highly Skilled Women in Nigeria's Technology Services Sector. PhD thesis The Open University.



This study explores the multifaceted roles and impacts of highly skilled female return migrant entrepreneurs within Nigeria's technology services sector. Leveraging my novel conceptual framework, the Returnee Entrepreneurship Intersectionality Model (REIM) – an integrated construct drawn from Human Capital Theory, Opportunity Entrepreneurship Theory, and Intersectionality Theory - the research uncovers how these entrepreneurs navigate the sector and shape the economic and sociocultural landscapes of their home country. I structured this study around four key objectives: to profile these women entrepreneurs, to unpack their motivations for initiating technology-based enterprises, to understand the influence of home conditions on their entrepreneurial activities, and to evaluate the broader implications of their ventures within Nigeria's technology sector (Ramachandran et al., 2019). Qualitative research methods, including digital ethnography, semi-structured interviews, and online data analysis, were employed to gather rich, nuanced data. Findings revealed these return migrants possessed diverse educational backgrounds and professional experiences, accrued both pre-migration and during their time abroad. Many of them leveraged these assets to launch businesses in response to identified market gaps or the desire to give back to their home country, thus displaying both opportunity-driven and a form of necessity-driven entrepreneurship. The study further revealed how their entrepreneurial activities were shaped by the socioeconomic and policy environment at home. Despite the occasional hurdles arising from entrenched gender norms, these women often turned challenges into opportunities, demonstrating resilience and creativity. Their impact on the Nigerian tech sector was multifaceted, introducing innovative products and services, creating jobs, and challenging traditional gender norms. However, measuring their broader impact on the economic performance and sociocultural dynamics of the tech sector proved complex due to factors such as the nascent nature of their presence, the size and scope of their enterprises, and the challenging operating environment. Despite some limitations, including the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic during data collection and constraints in generalizability, the study provides valuable insights into the experiences and impacts of highly skilled female return migrant entrepreneurs in Nigeria's technology services sector. It makes a unique contribution to the discourse on gender, return migrant entrepreneurship, and the tech sector, illuminating a rarely studied intersection of these themes, and in so doing, it generates several thought-provoking avenues for future research.

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