Poverty and indigenous entrepreneurship: a case study of the Mah Meri People in Malaysia

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Poverty among the indigenous population is higher than national poverty figures. Their low literacy rate and lack of employable skills have prevented them from attaining sustainable livelihoods. Despite adverse circumstances, indigenous people manage to subsist independently by utilising scarce resources. This chapter offers an overview of the main inhibitors preventing indigenous groups from embarking on entrepreneurship to improve their livelihood. Using secondary data supplemented by field research conducted in the Mah Meri indigenous village in Malaysia, we explore the critical factors that serve as barriers to adopting indigenous entrepreneurship practices among the Mah Meri community. Three significant barriers that prevent the Mah Meri indigenous people from venturing into new entrepreneurial activities have been identified: their way of life, a lack of formal education, and a lack of skills and collateral for financing. The findings contribute to a better understanding of the role of indigenous entrepreneurship among vulnerable societies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndigenous Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical and Practical Implications
EditorsEmiel L. Eijdenberg, Thirumaran K, Pengji Wang, Caroline Wong
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783031544576
ISBN (Print)9783031544569
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization in Business
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2731-7307
ISSN (Electronic)2731-7315


  • Orang Asli
  • Mah Meri
  • Poverty
  • Indigenous entrepreneurship
  • Sustainable development goals 2030

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