Dissertation Abstracts

indigenous black soap economy and value chain development in west africa

Author: Adedeji Oluwaseun Adewusi, adewusi4success@gmail.com
Department: Department of Sociology
University: University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Supervisor: Dr. Olayinka Akanle
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Indigenous Knowledge , Black soap , Value chain , Africa
Areas of Research: Economy and Society , Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy , Comparative Sociology


The study will examine the socio-cultural intricacies inherent in the production, trade (i.e., buying and selling) and consumption of indigenous raw black soap in Nigeria, Benin Republic and Ghana. The aforementioned examination will help develop a value chain framework for indigenous entrepreneurship and businesses in West Africa via the indigenous black soap. This is because ‘economy’ and ‘value chain’ are concepts that have been used by economists and management scholars in formal spaces while little attention has been given to the application of same concepts to informal scholarly conversations, especially in the indigenous entrepreneurship literature in Africa. This is clearly an indication that existing discourse on economy and the available value chain frameworks developed by academicians and policymakers may fail to conveniently accommodate the ‘indigeneity’ embedded in the entrepreneurial knowledge and businesses of West Africans. In addition, black soap is a product highly produced, traded in Nigeria, Benin and Ghana and it is a resource that had been confirmed to have a close association with rural and urban economic, social and health development. However, few purchase the African black soap. Meanwhile, ?s? Dúdú (indigenous black soap) originated amongst the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria and the Yoruba communities in Benin and Ghana. However, a recent finding as shown that the Ghanaian black soap has dominated the Nigerian black soap market. This is clearly a developmental issue. Hence, based on the analysis above, this study intends to examine the indigenous black soap economy in selected West African countries in other to develop a value chain framework that best explains indigenous entrepreneurial concerns. Interestingly, it should be stated here that existing studies on indigenous black soap have largely focused on the microbiological components of the resource while the socio-cultural and value-oriented dimensions of the same resource are still lacking. Considering the three different phases enclosed in this study, the Value Chain Model of Michael Porter and Marx Weber’s Social Action theory will be considered relevant for this study. The study will be exploratory in nature and it will adopt a comparative research design. Mixed methods of gather gathering will be utilized. Specifically, data will be collected through unstructured observations, in-depth and key informant interviews and copies of questionnaire from black soap entrepreneurs (i.e., producers and sellers) and (non)consumers in Nigeria, Benin and Ghana. Thematic reports, semiotic and content analysis will be used to analyze the qualitative data, while the quantitative data will be analyzed through descriptive and inferential statistical techniques. The findings of this study are expected to be of benefit: future researchers on areas pinpointed by the research objectives; new and existing black soap entrepreneurs on increased opportunities in black soap economy and chances for international expansion; development economists, management students and scholars via the development of an indigenous value chain framework and; policymakers through the achievement of selected Sustainable Development Goals in West Africa.