Emerging “repronubs” and “repropreneurs”: Transnational surrogacy in Ghana, Kazakhstan, and Laos

Andrea Whittaker, Trudie Gerrits, Christina Weis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we offer an analysis of the development of “repronubs”: less-known locations offering small-scale, niche cross-border gestational surrogacy or surrogacy services for a regional market. This analytical category of “repronubs” is useful to describe the formation of the industry from small local sites to those offering cross-border services. Based on our work in these locations, we compare the markets, regulatory contexts, and organization of the industry in Ghana, Kazakhstan, and Laos, focusing on the “repropreneurs” or surrogacy facilitation agents as pivotal in the emergence of these sites. These “repronubs” highlight the surrogacy trade between countries of the Global South and are established next to or instead of the more well-known North–South destinations. We document how surrogacy itself is increasingly stratified between higher cost and better-regulated environments such as in certain states of the United States or Canada and lower cost, less well regulated, and regionally focused environments in the settings we describe. These locations are characterized by poor or liberal regulations, the existence of local in vitro fertilization (IVF) expertise, and the emergence of local repropreneurs driving the trade using their social networks. The growth of demand from China and the growing affluent middle class in Africa is creating further markets for such regional “nubs.” Studying surrogacy in such locations is made difficult by the secrecy and confidentiality surrounding it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-323
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Assisted reproductive technology
  • cross-border surrogacy
  • repropreneurs
  • surrogacy
  • surrogacy regulations

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