Economic Knowledge in the Informal Economy of Zaria

Research Report

Published: 14 June 2018 12:00

By Colin Marx, Michael Walls, Adamu Ahmed and Yunusa Mohammed Bello

This research report examines how the concept of "economic knowledge" – most commonly associated with formal, advanced economies – manifests in an informal urban economy, using the example of Zaria, Nigeria.

The overall finding is that economic knowledge – defined as the ability to use information to solve problems of competition and/or collaboration – is evident in particular forms in an informal economy. Although unsurprising in principle, this has important implications for interventions that seek to develop innovation and competitiveness of informal economies such as "making markets work for the poor" (M4P) approaches which often take assumptions about economic knowledge for granted.

The research on which this report is based pioneers a methodology and is based on a small sample of informal enterprise owners in two sectors – grain selling and tailoring. The report details empirical, theoretical and methodological findings.