Matrimony relations and business in a fishing migrant community (periphery of Pointe-Noire, Congo-Brazzaville)
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This paper examines the entrepreneurial activities of female migrants in the informal artisanal fishing sector along the coastal line of Congo-Brazzaville. It shows the extent to which these women have achieved an insertion into a market niche, fish smoking, which builds on the livelihoods of co-ethnic migrant fishermen. Women rely on tile fish supplied by male migrants including their husbands to run their fish smoking activities. In return, they re-invest part of the proceeds in their husbands' fishing business. This interdependency of livelihoods reflects a reconstruction of gender-relations within the household which links matrimony to migration as an asset-accumulation strategy. The observed patterns in enterprising amply support the view that vulnerable households are capable of mobilising additional labour - in this case women's labour - in order to diversify their sources of income. The paper also demonstrates how inter-spouses partnering generate cohesion within the household and provides a mechanism for pooling income and other resources and for sharing business risks. In this regard, the household can be perceived as safety net and migration is indeed a strategy through which assets are accumulated in the host society. Little evidence has however come from the paper to suggest an effective emancipation and social autonomy on the side of the entrepreneurial woman. The relations of subordination seem to prevail, although less intense than before.