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Entrepreneurship, the informal economy and rural communities


Colin C. Williams
School of Management, Centre for Regional Economic and Enterprise Development, University of Shefeld, Shefeld, UK
Abstract
Purpose This paper aims to evaluate whether early-stage entrepreneurs and the established self-employed in rural communities trade off-the-books and whether this tendency varies across deprived and afuent rural localities. Design/methodology/approach Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 350 households in both afuent and deprived rural communities in England. Findings In both the afuent and deprived rural communities surveyed, wholly legitimate enterprises represent just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface is a large hidden enterprise culture of both registered businesses trading off-the-books and unregistered wholly off-the-books enterprises. However, the preponderance of both early-stage entrepreneurs, as well as the established self-employed to trade off-the-books is greater in deprived than afuent rural communities, intimating that deprived rural communities are perhaps relatively more enterprising and entrepreneurial than is currently recognised. Research limitations/implications These ndings are based on a small-scale study of ve English rural communities. Further studies are now required to evaluate whether similar ndings are replicated elsewhere. Practical implications The paper reveals that legitimising the hidden enterprise culture in deprived rural communities could be an important but so far untapped means of promoting enterprise and economic development. Originality/value Evaluates the extent of informal entrepreneurship in rural communities and how this varies spatially. Keywords Entrepreneurialism, Enterprise economics, Economic development, Rural economies, England Paper type Research paper

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Introduction Over the past decade or so, there has been a growing recognition that not only do many businesses start up trading partially or wholly off-the-books, but many continue to do so once established (Antonopoulos and Mitra, 2009; Llanes and Barbour, 2007; Rehn and Taalas, 2004; Small Business Council, 2004; Williams, 2006, 2009a). Until now, however, few have evaluated the extent to which the informal economy is used as a seedbed for enterprise creation and development in rural communities and even fewer whether its usage varies across afuent and deprived rural localities. This paper seeks to ll that gap. Potentially, this is an important policy issue. If a large hidden enterprise culture of enterprises and entrepreneurs operating wholly or partially off-the-books exists in rural communities, or particular types of rural community, then it might well
The author is grateful to funding provided by the Countryside Agency for funding the survey reported in this paper and to Richard White and Theresa Aldridge for their research assistance. As normal, the usual disclaimers apply.

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy Vol. 5 No. 2, 2011 pp. 145-157 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1750-6204 DOI 10.1108/17506201111131578

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be that those communities are more enterprising and entrepreneurial than currently recognised and consequently, legitimising the hidden enterprise culture could be an important means of promoting enterprise and economic development in these communities. First, therefore, this paper reviews the small but rapidly growing body of knowledge on the relationship between the informal economy and enterprise creation and development. Revealing how few if any studies have evaluated the extent of informal entrepreneurship in rural communities, the second section outlines a study of the role of the informal economy in rural enterprise creation and development in a mixture of afuent and deprived rural English localities. The third section then reports the ndings. Displaying that early-stage entrepreneurs and the established self-employed more commonly trade off-the-books in deprived rural localities, such communities are tentatively asserted to be more enterprising and entrepreneurial than currently recognised and consequently, it is contended that legitimising this hidden enterprise culture might be an important means of promoting rural enterprise and economic development. The nal section concludes by calling for the repositioning of the informal economy more centre stage in discussions of enterprise and economic development, along with a brief outline of how public policy might begin to harness this hidden enterprise culture. Before commencing, however, a working denition of informal entrepreneurship is required appropriate to the task at hand. Dening an entrepreneur as somebody actively involved in starting a business or is the owner/manager of a business less than 36 months old (Harding et al., 2006; Reynolds et al., 2002), and informal work as monetary transactions not declared to the state for tax and/or benet purposes when they should be declared but which are legal in all other respects (European Commission, 2007; Evans et al., 2006; Renooy et al., 2004; Williams, 2006), informal entrepreneurship here refers to those starting a business or are the owner/manager of a business less than 36 months old who engage in monetary transactions not declared to the state for tax and/or benet purposes when they should be declared but which are legal in all other respects. Entrepreneurship and the informal economy Until now, whether entrepreneurs engage in off-the-books transactions has received little attention in the entrepreneurship literature. As Williams (2006) and Jones and Spicer (2005, 2006) explain, this is perhaps because the eld of entrepreneurship is dominated by a wholesome, positive and virtuous representation of the entrepreneur as a superhero (Burns, 2001; Cannon, 1991). Forms of entrepreneurship tarnishing this ideal have therefore tended to be placed either outside the boundaries of entrepreneurship, ignored, depicted as temporary or transient, or said to have little to do with mainstream entrepreneurship. A small but growing tributary of the entrepreneurship literature, however, has built upon the earlier tradition that highlighted the negative attributes of entrepreneurs and how entrepreneurs do not always play by the rulebook (Collins et al., 1964; Bhide and Stevenson, 1990; Kets de Vries, 1977) by reporting how entrepreneurs often engage in illegitimate acts (Armstrong, 2005; Bouchard and Dion, 2009; Deutschmann, 2001; Fournier, 1998; Friman, 2001; Frith and McElwee, 2008, 2009; Jones and Spicer, 2005, 2006; Rehn and Taalas, 2004; Skold and Rehn, 2007; Smith, 2007; Smith and Christou, 2009; Storr and Butkevich, 2007), as well as how those engaged in illegitimate practices often display entrepreneurial traits, such as drug dealers (Bouchard and Dion, 2009;

Frith and McElwee, 2008, 2009; Friman, 2001), as well as prostitutes and pimps (Smith and Christou, 2009). Besides this literature on entrepreneurs trading illegitimate goods and services, another strand has explored whether entrepreneurs trading licit goods and services sometimes do not declare their transactions to the authorities for tax and social security purposes when they should be declared (Antonopoulos and Mitra, 2009; Ram et al., 2007; Small Business Council, 2004; Valenzuela, 2001; Williams, 2006, 2007a, b, 2008). This has revealed, albeit largely in relation to urban economies, that many early-stage entrepreneurs and established self-employed engage in off-the-books transactions. It is not only the entrepreneurship literature, however, that has started to uncover the prevalence of informal entrepreneurship. The literature on the informal economy has also begun to analyse entrepreneurship in the informal sector. Recently, a large proportion of the labour force is employed informally: some 48 per cent of non-agricultural employment in North Africa, 51 per cent in Latin America, 65 per cent in Asia and 72 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa (ILO, 2002b). Many of these are now recognised to be working on a self-employed basis. In Sub-Saharan Africa, some 70 per cent of informal workers are self-employed, 62 per cent in North Africa, 60 per cent in Latin America and 59 per cent in Asia (ILO, 2002b). An outcome is that these informal self-employed have started to be re-read as a hidden enterprise culture (Williams, 2006). This re-reading rst emerged in a third (majority) world context (Browne, 2004; Cross, 2000; De Soto, 1989, 2001; ILO, 2002a; Ilahiane and Sherry, 2008). As the ILO (2002a, p. 54), for example, states, the informal economy represents an incubator for business potential and [. . .] transitional base for accessibility and graduation to the formal economy and the off-the-books self-employed display real business acumen, creativity, dynamism and innovation. Since the turn of the millennium, this reading has also spread to both post-Soviet economies (Chavdarova, 2005; Rehn and Taalas, 2004; Round et al., 2008; Williams, 2008), as well as the Western world (Evans et al., 2006; Lazaridis and Koumandraki, 2003; Renooy et al., 2004; Small Business Council, 2004; Snyder, 2004; Williams, 2006, 2008, 2009a, b). Until now, however, few studies have evaluated the normality of informality in new and established businesses. One of the few studies, to do so, reveals that in Russia, Ukraine and England, 100, 90 and 77 per cent, respectively, of the entrepreneurs surveyed trade off-the-books (Williams, 2008). To explain the reasons for informal entrepreneurship, meanwhile, studies have tended to differentiate between necessity entrepreneurs pushed into entrepreneurship because other options for work are absent or unsatisfactory and opportunity entrepreneurs doing so out of choice such as to exploit some business opportunity or due to their desire for independence or to own a business (Gerxhani, 2004; Snyder, 2004; Williams, 2007a, 2008). The perhaps dominant view has been that informal entrepreneurs are driven out of necessity into this realm as a survival strategy and last resort (Gallin, 2001; Sassen, 1997). Informal entrepreneurship is thus depicted as involuntary, forced, reluctant or survivalist (Hughes, 2006; Valenzuela, 2001). Others, however, argue the inverse. As Gerxhani (2004, p. 274) asserts, many self-employed choose to participate in the informal economy because they nd more autonomy, exibility and freedom in this sector than in the formal one. Similarly, Snyder (2004) in her study of 50 off-the-books entrepreneurs in New York Citys East Village contests the view

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that external pressures (such as discrimination, economic restructuring and unemployment) force people to work off-the-books. All the off-the-books entrepreneurs she studied were doing so out of choice, such as to set their careers on a new path, to transform their work identity or to reveal their true selves. This is also the nding of Cross (1997, 2000) studying street vendors in Latin America. Recently, however, others have transcended this representation of informal entrepreneurs as either universally necessity or opportunity driven. Various studies in both rural and urban North America (Edgcomb and Thetford, 2004; Lozano, 1989; Valenzuela, 2001) have instead deciphered the necessity-to-opportunity ratio of informal entrepreneurs. These, nevertheless, all portray individual entrepreneurs as either necessity or opportunity driven, viewing necessity and opportunity as separate categories constituted via their negation to each other (i.e. to be an entrepreneur out of choice means that one is not being one out of necessity). Recently, and akin to some pioneering studies on legitimate entrepreneurs motives (Aidis et al., 2006; Smallbone and Welter, 2004), the separateness of opportunity and necessity drivers in informal entrepreneurs motives has begun to be questioned, viewing both as co-present and motives as changing over time, often from more necessity to opportunity driven (Snyder, 2004; Williams, 2007a, b, 2008). Despite this small but burgeoning literature on informal entrepreneurship, most of these studies have so far focused on urban communities. Few have evaluated the prevalence of informal entrepreneurship in rural communities and even fewer how this varies across afuent and deprived rural communities and the implications for rural economic and enterprise development. This paper seeks to ll that gap. Examining informal entrepreneurship in rural England Is it more common for entrepreneurs to engage in informal transactions in some rural communities rather than others? And does the character and motives of informal entrepreneurship also vary spatially and if so, how? To answer these questions, 350 face-to-face household interviews were conducted in afuent and deprived rural communities during 2002-2003 in England. The UK Governments Index of Multiple Deprivation, which ranks all 8,000-odd UK districts according to multiple deprivation indicators, was used to select a shortlist of localities which was then discussed with regional ofcers of the governments Countryside Agency (the sponsors of the research). The outcome was that two afuent communities and three deprived communities were chosen with a broad regional spread. The two relatively afuent communities were: (1) Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire. An afuent commuter village located outside the university town of Cambridge and at the heart of the UK equivalent of Silicon Valley (known as Silicon Fen), comprised mostly of large private sector housing. (2) Chalford, Gloucestershire. This afuent community of some 5,600 in the Cotswolds has mostly private sector housing and low unemployment. A high proportion of the employed commute to cities some distance away (e.g. London, Bristol). The three lower income communities, meanwhile, represented varying types of deprived rural locality:

(1) St Blazey, Cornwall. In a popular tourist area, this relatively deprived population of some 6,100 is characterised by a mix of housing tenures, high unemployment and relative social isolation. (2) Wigton, Cumbria. This mono-industrial rural community where one factory dominates the local labour market has little in-migration, a mix of housing tenures and low educational attainment. (3) Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire. An ex-coal mining village with very high unemployment, a relatively uniform socio-economic mix, low educational attainment, very little private sector housing and some breakdown of social solidarity following the decision to house ex-offenders in social housing in the village. Although the data gathered from these diverse rural communities are not representative of rural England as a whole, the benet of studying various community types is that one avoids conning analysis to what might be unique congurations of informal work in a particular community or community type. Having chosen these communities, a spatially stratied sampling procedure was then used to select households for interview in each area. The researcher called at every nth dwelling in each road, depending on the number of households in each community and the number of interviews sought. For example, if there were 350 households in the community and 70 interviews were sought, then every fth household was visited. If there was no response, then the researcher called back once. If there was still no response and/or they were refused an interview, then the sixth house was surveyed (again with one call back), then the fourth dwelling, seventh and so on. This provided a spatially stratied sample of each locality. It ensured that the 70 interviews conducted in each locality were representative of the community and prevented a skewed sample towards certain tenures, types of dwelling and different parts of each area being interviewed. In each household, meanwhile, the closest birthday rule amongst people available for interview was used to select the respondent for interview. A structured face-to-face interview schedule was used to gather the data and this sensitive topic was approached in a gradual manner through the lens of an overall study of household livelihood practices. First, background information was gathered on the households in terms of the age, gender, employment status and work history of household members, as well as the gross household income, including whether any household member had started up a business venture in the past 36 months. Second, questions were asked about the type of labour the household last used to complete a range of 44 common domestic tasks followed. Third, by whether they had conducted any of these 44 tasks for other households and if so, whether they had been paid, and whether they had been paid cash in hand. Fourth and nally, open-ended questions were then asked on their off-the-books work, including for those who had started up a business venture in the prior 36 months, whether their transactions has been wholly or partly off-the-books and their motives for trading off-the-books. Although this generated data on a multiplicity of livelihood practices, the focus here is solely on whether entrepreneurs and the more established self-employed work off-the-books. Before turning to the results, a note is required on the reliability of the data gathered. Akin to similar previous studies examining informal work through a wider survey of household livelihood practices (Leonard, 1994; MacDonald, 1994; Pahl, 1984),

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respondents were here found to openly talk about their off-the-books practices. Although it might be hidden from the state authorities for tax and social security purposes, it was discussed with interviewers in the same manner as they discussed their volunteering. Reinforcing this, the total customers reported spending on off-the-books work in each community approximated to what suppliers reported they received. There is thus little evidence of suppliers under-reporting such transactions. Below, therefore, the results are reported. Evaluating informal entreprenurship in English rural communities In the 350 households surveyed composed of 534 working-age adults, 37 people (7 per cent of the surveyed working-age population) had started up a business venture in the past three years and a further 43 (8 per cent of the surveyed working-age population) were established self-employed. Of the 37 early-stage entrepreneurs, 28 (76 per cent) reported trading off-the-books and 31 (72 per cent) of the established self-employed. Although this is a relatively small sample, the nding that some three-quarters trade off-the-books strongly intimates that this is not a minority practice. Indeed, comparing the overall ndings of this Rural Communities Survey with other UK entrepreneurship surveys tentatively suggests that the results are not too far from the norm. The 2001 UK Global Entrepreneurship Monitor survey nds that 6.5 per cent of the working-age population are early-stage entrepreneurs (Harding, 2003) compared with 7 per cent in this survey. Given the lack of other evidence, the nding that three-quarters trade off-the-books provides a tentative but clear signal that a signicant proportion of early-stage entrepreneurs and established self-employed in rural England operate wholly or partially in the informal economy. There are, however, marked spatial variations in the likelihood of early-stage entrepreneurs and the established self-employed trading off-the-books across these rural communities. As Table I reveals, a greater proportion trade off-the-books in deprived rural communities. In afuent rural communities, that is, some 67 per cent of early-stage entrepreneurs work off-the-books compared with 87 per cent in deprived communities. Similarly, 64 per cent of established self-employed in afuent rural areas trade off-the-books compared with 82 per cent in deprived communities.

Afuent rural Sample size Percentage of total sample Percentage of all off-the-books entrepreneurs surveyed Percentage of early-stage entrepreneurs who are Wholly legitimate Registered but conducting share of trade off-the-books Unregistered and wholly off-the-books Percentage of established self-employed who are Wholly legitimate Registered but conducting share of trade off-the-books Unregistered and wholly off-the-books 140 40 53 33 60 7 36 54 10

Deprived rural 210 60 47 13 64 23 18 69 13

All areas 350 100 100 24 63 13 28 61 11

Table I. Geographical variations in informal entrepreneurship in rural England: by area

Source: English Rural Communities Informal Economy Survey, 2002-2003

Informal entrepreneurs in deprived rural communities are also more likely to be unregistered and trading wholly off-the-books (23 per cent of all early-stage entrepreneurs) compared with those in relatively afuent communities (7 per cent). The clear implication is that nearly a quarter of business startups in deprived rural communities are not even on the radar screen of the state since they have neither registered their business nor declared any income for tax and social security purposes. Characteristics of informal entrepreneurs Examining the employment status of early-stage entrepreneurs trading off-the-books, 3 per cent were unemployed or economically inactive when they established their business venture, 72 per cent were in formal employment and 25 per cent registered self-employed. This is very similar to those starting up business ventures more generally in the UK (SBS, 2006) where 5 per cent were found to be unemployed and 80 per cent formal employees. Of the 31 established self-employed trading wholly or partially off-the-books, however, 80 per cent were registered self-employed, 12 per cent formal employees operating their self-employed enterprise on the side and 8 per cent registered unemployed. The intimation is that many early-stage entrepreneurs operating informally eventually leave their formal jobs and become registered self-employed. This reects the wider evidence that those starting up enterprises are in waged employment, and straddle the formal and informal economies as a risk-reduction strategy (McCormick, 1998) in their early stages, and that as the business develops they make the transition to becoming fully self-employed and more legitimate (Reynolds et al., 2002). Indeed, the employment histories of the 43 established informal self-employed reinforce this nding. Of those dening their employment status as registered self-employed, most (80 per cent) had been previously formal employees, providing tentative evidence of a transition from employment to self-employment. This is apparent across both afuent and deprived rural communities. Across all the communities, moreover, two groups of early-stage entrepreneur can be identied, namely those whose enterprise is spinning off from their formal employment and those whose entrepreneurial ventures derive from some hobby or interest. For every off-the-books enterprise that emerges out of some hobby or personal interest, more than two spin-off from peoples formal employment. This ratio, however, varies spatially. In afuent areas, a greater share (72 per cent) of early-stage enterprises derives from employment, whilst in deprived areas a relatively higher share (60 per cent) emerges out of hobbies or personal interests. Similarly, two distinct groups of established off-the-books self-employed can be identied, namely, serial users of the informal economy and those whose enterprises are in transition towards legitimacy. Again, however, there are spatial variations. Across the sample as a whole, 63 per cent are serial off-the-books traders and 37 per cent in transition to legitimacy. However, a greater proportion are serial off-the-books traders in deprived areas (70 per cent), whilst in afuent areas a larger proportion are in transition to legitimacy (43 per cent). Informal entrepreneurs motives To evaluate the motives underpinning for establishing an enterprise, only the responses of early-stage entrepreneurs are here evaluated because the more established self-employed trading off-the-books might be more likely to give a post hoc

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rationalisation and/or not to remember why they decided to originally engage in such endeavour. Early-stage informal entrepreneurs were rst asked, why did you decide to set up this enterprise? followed by two probes that involved rst, repeating the answer with an inexion (e.g. to be more independent?) and second asking any other reasons?. Table II reports their responses to the initial question. It reveals that just 32 per cent are necessity entrepreneurs. Over two-thirds (68 per cent) asserted that this was more a matter of choice, asserting, for example, that I wanted to run my own business, I identied a gap in the market or I wanted to be independent. The identied ratio of 2:1 opportunity-to-necessity off-the-books entrepreneurs, however, is not everywhere the same. In deprived communities, the ratio is some 1.6:1 whilst in afuent areas it is 4:1, signifying how informal entrepreneurship is more necessity driven in deprived areas but opportunity driven in afuent areas. Analysing the responses to the further probes, Table III reveals that the vast majority (82 per cent) display a mixture of both necessity and opportunity motives. Most felt both pushed, such as due to dissatisfaction with their formal employment or no other option being available to them, as well as pulled such as due to their desire for independence, an interest in the activity involved and so forth. In other words, choice and constraint was co-present. Nevertheless, most informal entrepreneurs were more opportunity than necessity driven. Again, however, spatial variations are apparent. In afuent rural communities, as might be expected, there is a greater degree of agency involved in the decision to operate informally while in deprived areas necessity is more predominant. Rationales, nevertheless, alter over time. As Table IV displays, a quarter of informal entrepreneurs had altered their reasons since starting up their business venture. The propensity for motives to change, however, was greater in deprived than afuent communities, where many who were originally necessity-orientated entrepreneurs became more opportunity-orientated over time.
Motive To generate sufcient income to live/survive To generate additional income Desire to have own business To ll a gap in the market Independence Total All (%) 32 3 24 24 17 100 Afuent rural 20 7 26 27 20 100 Deprived rural 38 0 23 23 16 100

Table II. Main reason informal entrepreneurs set up their enterprise

Source: English Rural Communities Informal Economy Survey, 2002-2003

Motive Solely necessity entrepreneurship Mostly necessity but also opportunity entrepreneurship Mostly opportunity but also necessity entrepreneurship Solely opportunity entrepreneurship

All (%) 8 17 65 10

Afuent rural 7 7 73 13

Deprived rural 8 23 61 8

Table III. Informal entrepreneurs reasons following additional probes

Source: English Rural Communities Informal Economy Survey, 2002-2003

This has important implications. Economic and enterprise development practitioners have in the past paid little attention to necessity entrepreneurs in the belief that it is opportunity entrepreneurs who provide the potentially best source of future dynamism and growth. Many who begin as necessity-driven entrepreneurs, however, have been here shown to become more opportunity-driven over time. Consequently, it would be a mistake to write off necessity-driven informal entrepreneurs as unworthy of public policy support. Conclusions This paper has sought to understand the degree to which the informal economy is used as a seedbed for enterprise creation and development in rural communities and how this varies across a range of deprived and afuent rural localities. This is an important issue because if a large hidden enterprise culture exists in the shadows of the rural economic landscape, then rural communities may well be far more enterprising and entrepreneurial than so far assumed. Indeed, evaluating the results of face-to-face interviews with 350 households in ve afuent and deprived rural English communities, the nding is that wholly legitimate enterprises represent just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface, largely unnoticed and widely ignored, is a large hidden enterprise culture of entrepreneurs operating wholly or partially off-the-books of a similar order of magnitude as in urban areas (Evans et al., 2006; Williams, 2006). Of course, not all early-stage entrepreneurs and established self-employed in all rural communities trade off-the-books and it is not the intention to suggest this is the case. Portraying all entrepreneurs as working informally is as erroneous as representing all entrepreneurs as wholly legitimate. The point is that the informal economy seems to be a seedbed for entrepreneurs to test out their edgling businesses and develop them. This, however, is more the case in some rural communities than others. Early-stage entrepreneurs and the established self-employed are more likely to trade off-the-books in deprived than afuent rural communities. Indeed, in deprived communities, a quarter of all early-stage entrepreneurs and one in eight established self-employed are not even on the radar screen of the state, operating wholly off-the-books. In these deprived communities, in consequence, entrepreneurship and enterprise culture appears to be somewhat greater than currently measured by ofcial statistics. This has important research and policy implications. In terms of future research, this study adds further weight to the growing demand to transcend the dominant ideal-type representation of entrepreneurs as wholesome and legitimate economic heroes and to better understand the lived practices of entrepreneurs. Having started to show the relationship between entrepreneurship and the informal economy in English rural communities, to complement previous studies of urban economies, further studies would enable understanding of whether these ndings are more widely valid or not.
All areas Motives unchanged From necessity to opportunity orientated From opportunity to necessity orientated 74 18 8 Afuent rural 80 13 7 Deprived rural 69 23 8

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Source: English Rural Communities Informal Economy Survey, 2002-2003

Table IV. Shift in informal entrepreneurs motives since establishing their enterprise

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These ndings also have policy implications. Until now, the assumption has been that enterprise culture and entrepreneurship is perhaps lower in deprived areas and that there is a need to encourage people to become entrepreneurs in such communities. This paper, however, intimates that entrepreneurship and enterprise culture might not be quite as low as recorded in ofcial statistics and that alongside nurturing new entrepreneurs, there is perhaps also a need to help informal entrepreneurs to become legitimate, including those currently operating wholly off-the-books. This includes necessity-driven informal entrepreneurs, many of whom become more opportunity-driven over time. How such informal entrepreneurship can be legitimised is perhaps too large a topic to cover in any depth here. Initiatives might include rst, the development of local advisory agencies to provide information, advice, loans and support services to informal entrepreneurs on how they can legitimise their business ventures; local formalisation initiatives to provide micronance to edgling businesses, as well as training to the potentially self-employed on creating a formal business; the creation of local agencies to co-ordinate the actions of the multiplicity of organisations who might pursue programmes and initiatives to help facilitate the transition from the informal to the formal economy; and publicity campaigns to promote tax morality and engender a commitment (rather than compliance) culture (Small Business Council, 2004; Williams, 2006). Which of these measures would be most effective at legitimising informal entrepreneurship is beyond the scope of this paper. If this paper therefore, encourages greater recognition of a large hidden enterprise culture in rural communities and further research to analyse the spatial variations in its prevalence and character across rural communities and beyond, then this paper will have achieved its main objective. If it also facilitates more serious consideration of how to legitimise informal entrepreneurship so as to promote enterprise and economic development, especially in deprived rural communities, then it will have fullled all of its objectives.
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