Despite playing an important role in the economies of low-income countries, there is a perception that informal markets are haphazard and disorganized. Using in-depth interviews conducted in Accra, Ghana, this study examines the strategic choices that market women pursue to gain access to and thrive in informal working spaces and ensure long-term survival. The findings reveal that entry into the informal working spaces is contingent on women’s ability to forge and nourish ties with acquaintances, kinsmen and middlemen. Further, the study found that in contrast to the notion of unregulated competition typically associated with street vending, market relations among women traders in informal market spaces are marked by alliances between rival sellers that transcended religious, ethnic, linguistic, and generational divides. As well, a strict code of conduct governs market behaviour, underpinned by an ethos of cooperation and mutual assistance among rival sellers. Furthermore, market women in Accra articulate the rationale behind informal entrepreneurship in ways that align with local and national development agenda. In so doing, the market women lend legitimacy to their trade, demand accountability from local authorities, and oppose repressive practices by the state. We highlight the implications of our findings for city planning and development.

entrepreneurship, gender, Ghana, Informal markets, livelihoods, social resources
International Planning Studies
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies

Sowatey, E. (Emmanuel), Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (Hanson), Mkandawire, P, Arku, G. (Godwin), Hussey, L. (Lucia), & Amasaba, A. (Aluizah). (2018). Spaces of resilience, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship in informal work in Ghana. International Planning Studies, 1–13. doi:10.1080/13563475.2018.1480933