Heaven Kigali – Narratives & Realities of an 'Ethnic Minority' Woman Business Owner
38th Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, November 2015
9 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 12, 2015
Objectives –The study highlights the story of Heaven Restaurant & Bar, Kigali (capital city of Rwanda), owned and managed by Alissa Ruxin, an American woman who has been doing business in a foreign country since 2006. The study develops a teaching case using the narratives of Alissa who sought to overcome the liability of foreignness as a minority entrepreneur.
Prior Work – The case builds upon previous studies from the 2010 ISBE conference; an article published in Enterprising Matters (an ISBE Magazine) in 2010; as well as a literature review on the subject matter (Zaheer, 1995; Sethi, & Guisinger, 2002; Eden & Miller, 2004; Chen, Griffith & Hu, 2006; Schmidt & Sofka, 2009; Barnard, 2010; Moeller, Harvey, Griffith & Richey, 2013; Madichie and Hinson; 2013; 2014; Madichie, 2015; Held and Berg, 2015).
Approach – The case was developed over a 6-month period (June-December 2012), on the back of personal observation. Heaven first came to light as part of a Cable News Network (CNN) documentary with a focus on developments in Rwanda – dubbed Africa’s Singapore. It is typically framed around a qualitative analysis, which unpacks the coping strategies and realities of an ethnic minority business through insider accounts (Ekanem, 2007) of its founder.
Results – Given Rwanda’s tourism plan in its Vision 2020 commitment to improving hospitality and supporting tourism, the story of Heaven, provides an ideal contribution to the realities of doing business abroad and the attendant liability-of-foreignness (LOF) usually attached to such enterprise.
Implications – The case highlights how Heaven, despite the observed portmanteau of challenges, overcame its LOF. Going by Alissa’s narrative, “sustainability [...] to be both a restaurant & school [despite lacking] the time or resources…” overcoming LOF in entrepreneurship discourse is worthy of research study. Indeed further scholarly enquiry on how to cope with the realities of ethnic minority enterprise – in a small business sense as distinct from multinational enterprises that have received more research attention in the literature – remains one scholarly area in need of exploitation.
Keywords: Entrepreneurship in Minority Groups, Liability of Foreignness, Narrative analysis, Heaven
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