Does participation of agricultural entrepreneurs in knowledge networks improve firm performancein Benin?

Knowledge network is a key element of the entrepreneurship environment. It is claimed to provide entrepreneurs with information, resources, and knowledge likely to positively impact the performance of their firms. In the African context, where agricultural entrepreneurship is rapidly evolving in adverse conditions, knowledge networks are presumed to be critical for entrepreneurs. However, it is still unclear if and how knowledge networks can improve the performance of firms.

This study empirically investigated that question in Benin where 819 agricultural entrepreneurs were interviewed. Descriptive statistics were used to evidence the participation in knowledge networks, and an ordinal logistic regression to assess the effect of participation on the firm’s performance.

Findings showed that agricultural entrepreneurs use both formal and informal knowledge networks with more intensity towards the informal ones. Participation in these knowledge networks is influenced by age, gender, education level, and sector of activities. Moreover, entrepreneurs who can access advice or information on resources from organizations in their networks or actively participate in professional events displayed higher performance. This study provides critical information for institutions that are active in encouraging or crowding out the involvement of the private sector in agricultural and rural development.

Keywords: private sector; knowledge networks; agricultural development; entrepreneurs; Benin.

This article was published in the MDPI journal