The term “Entrepreneur” implies to both men and women. However I find it necessary to dedicate one full chapter on Women Entrepreneurs in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the world of business.
Another reason for me to write this chapter is to encourage potential Women entrepreneurs especially the young women to avail the opportunities which the business world has to offer. Many women are gifted with “entrepreneurial abilities” but fail to recognize their potential due to many factors such as lack of finance, lack of information and lack of moral support.
Women entrepreneurs refer to those businesswomen who undertake business operations with a view to earn profits. Like male entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs also organize resources and assume business risks. The role of a woman entrepreneur is the same as that of an entrepreneur.
The fact remains that, like the definition of the term ‘entrepreneur’, different scholars have identified different sets of functions performed by an entrepreneur, whether man or woman. As we discussed earlier, all these entrepreneurial functions can be classified broadly into three categories; (i) Risk bearing (ii) Organization (iii) Innovation
Definition of Women Entrepreneurs:
Based on the general concept of entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurs may be defined as:
(1) “A woman or group of women who initiate, organize and W” a business enterprise, ” or “women who innovate, imitate or adopt a business activity are called women entrepreneurs. ”
(2) “A woman entrepreneur can also be defined as a confident’ innovative and creative woman capable of achieving Self-economic independence individually or in collaboration, generates employment opportunities for others through initiating establishing and running the enterprise by keeping pace with her personal, family and social life. ”
In nutshell, women entrepreneurs are those women who think of a business enterprise, initiate it, organize and combine the factors of production, operate the enterprise and undertake risks and handle economic uncertainty involved in running a business enterprise.
As an entrepreneur, a woman entrepreneur has also to perform all the functions involved in establishing an enterprise. These include idea generation, determination of objectives, project preparation, product analysis, determination of forms of business organization, completion of promotional formalities, raising funds, arranging for labour, machines and materials, and operation of business.
Women in Kenya and other countries of the world are also participating and performing well in all other spheres of activities such as academic, politics, administration, social work and business.
The emergence of women entrepreneurs and their contribution to the national economy is quite visible in many parts of the world. The number of women entrepreneurs have grown over a period of time, especially in the 19905. Women entrepreneurs need to be lauded for their increased utilization of modern technology, increased investments, creating a sizable employment for others and setting the trend for other women entrepreneurs in the organized sector.
If you look around, women owned and operated businesses are growing. There was a time when business was dominated by men. Change, as it always is, was inevitable. There have been times when women have outPerformed men in business. Nowadays, no one can judge you by your gender, but by your accomplishments. There are a lot of opportunities today that open up the world for women entrepreneurs. Women are very good at excelling in untried and unfamiliar areas of business.
Women constitute around half of the total world population. They can therefore, be regarded as the better half of the society. In traditional Societies, they were confined to the ‘four walls’ of houses performing household activities. In modern societies they have come to participate in all sorts of activities. Now they have started plunging into business also and running their enterprises successfully. Therefore, while discussing on entrepreneurial development, it seems in the fitness of the context to study about the development of women entrepreneurs.
Importance of Women Entrepreneurs:
In earlier days men were more enterprising and daring to take on a business venture. In fact, business was considered to be their domain as it was generally felt that they had the necessary qualities to take on business. Now the scenario has changed. Women have also entered the fray and are equally doing well.
women entrepreneurs are also a force to reckon with now. One cannot say that men are only likely to set up business establishments. Women are also willing and capable to take up such challenges.
Why women want to do business?
. Women are becoming more independent and self-reliant. They like to earn their own livelihood and business seems to be a good Option’
. Business is more challenging than a job. Women can decide thing5 for themselves and the returns in terms of profits are very good.
. As women entrepreneurs, the time at their disposal allows them to take care of their family responsibilities. They are free to decide what their timings at work should be.
No need to be subservient to the demands of the boss. They are the boss themselves.
, Provides immense satisfaction to have their own setup. They take pride in doing business independently.
DO men accept women in business?
Initially there was resistance as male chauvinism prevailed. Now men have accepted women on equal terms. They are willing to do basiness with them,
Women do not rely on men to take decisions. They take them independently. They have successfully shown that they can also deliver the goods.
The belief that men are more business oriented than women is now not acceptable. It is not unfeminine to do business. Both men and women are willing to take up the challenges that come along the way in doing business.
It is important to note the participation of women in the economic activities as self-employed individuals. In the advance countries of the world there is a phenomenal increase in the number of self-employed women after the Second World War.
Women entrepreneurs have been making a significant impact in all segments of the economy in Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Australia and the US. The areas chosen by women are retail trade, restaurants, hotels, education, cleaning, insurance and manufacture. However, the percentage of business started and operated by women in US. is less than those started by men.
In the present context women are not only generating employment for themselves in the unorganised sector, they are also providing employment to others. Every country needs to mobilise and fully utilise all its resources including human resources. The women’s participation in the economic activities is not only necessary from a human resource point of view but it is essential even for raising the status of women in the society.
Today, the economic status of women is accepted as an indicator of ‘a society’s stage of development. It, therefore, becomes imperative for the government to frame policies for the development of entrepreneurship among women. The long term objectives of the development programmes for women should aim to raise their economic as well as their social status in order to bring them in the forefront of development.
In order to achieve this, due recognition has to be given to the role and contribution of women in the various social, economic, political and cultural activities.
Functions and Role of Women Entrepreneurs:
Like a male entrepreneur, a woman entrepreneur also performs many functions. Let us discuss the main ones:.
(i) Explore the prospects of starting new enterprise.
(ii) Introduction of new innovations or imitation of successful ones in existence.
(iii) Undertaking of risks and the handling of economic and non-economic uncertainties.
(iv) Co-ordination, administration and control.
(v) Supervision and providing leadership in all aspects of the business.
Risk taking and innovation are very important for establishing or diversifying an enterprise. Co-ordination and supervision becomes important in improving the efficiency in the operation of undertaking. Women entrepreneurs are generally seen to undertake three types of industrial enterprises.
(1) Manufacture of consumer products which are directly sold in the market.
(2) Manufacture items that are usually used by large scale units.
(3) Service industry.
The women entrepreneurs seem to prefer the production of those goods Which have a direct sale in the market. This is so in a country like Kenya where the women entrepreneurs in the small scale sector deal in the production of consumer durables and non-durables which are sold directly in the market.
Women should be motivated to come out of their traditional occupation for accepting more challenging and rewarding economic activities. BankS Ind financial Institutions must provide credit to women entrepreneurs on eoncesion terms and on priority basis.
The problem of women in the economic field has received the attention of National and International bodies in the recent years. The United Nations had declared the year 1976-85 as the “decade for women.” The world conference of the United Nations, decade for women, adopted a programme aimed at promoting full and equal opportunities for women in employment, equal remuneration for work of equal value and promoting the access of women and girls to non-traditional skilled trades. The first world conference took place in Mexico in 1975. A second was held in 1980 in Copenhagen and the third was held in Nairobi, Kenya in J My 1985. Some 157 Govemments were represented at the Nairobi Conference, along with intergovernmental organisations, United Nations bodies and agencies, non-govemmental organizations and national liberation movements. More than 80 percent of the 2,000 delegates were women, and women headed approximately 85 percent of the delegations.
In South Africa, the Department of Industry, under the Ministry of Trade and Industry has over the last few years undertaken a range of initiatives to promote and support the economic empowerment of women.
The International Labour Organisation has carried out an extensive study in a large number of countries including Albania, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, The Caribbean, South America, Trinidad, Tobago, The philippines, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and South East Asia and produced a series of working papers on “Women’s Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality” under an acronym WEDGE.
The lessons, the ILO has learnt from these studies, are listed below:
In both the formal and informal economies, women entrepreneurs account for a large number of enterprises. They make a substantial contribution to national economies. To develop and grow, they require business support services, rather than support in the form of welfare or charity.
. In some countries, women experience barriers mainly at the stage of entering into business. Once established, they face many of the same problems common to all entrepreneurs.
Women have difficulty accessing finances, and even when they do so, they obtain smaller loans than men.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ when designing solutions and programmes, as women entrepreneurs are not a homogeneous group. They face different sorts of problems at different stages of their development and growth in a wide range of countries.
Women are less likely to be members of business or employers’ associations than men. This finding provides a great opportunity for representative associations, such as employers’ organisations to increase women’s memberships.
Networks and associations of women entrepreneurs can provide much-needed support for new and emerging women entrepreneurs, and they are well positioned to establish women’s business centers.
Support for women entrepreneurs needs to take account of women’s reproductive and household responsibilities, as well as existing gender relations and roles between women and men.
Many women entrepreneurs adopt a range of indicators of achievement, including satisfying clients, satisfying their workforce, and satisfying their families.
Growth programmes for women entrepreneurs can only succeed when they address power relations, and improve access to and control over economic opportunities and resources.
Women entrepreneurs often lack self-confidence in their business endeavours and fear that they will not be taken seriously by others.
Women’s mobility is limited in terms of often having to work close to home, having limited access to transport, and they have personal security considerations.
In most countries where households are coping with the effects of H lV/AIDS, additional burdens are placed on women and these Women have difficulty accessing finances, and even when they do so, they obtain smaller loans than men.
can distract them from their business pursuits. However, the small ‘ business is oRen particularly important, as it is likely to be the sole source of income for the household.
. Women with disability experience additional barriers and burdens in establishing and running their own enterprises.
Why do women become Entrepreneurs?
Women business owners cite a number of reasons for becoming entrepreneurs. An analysis of the main reasons suggests the following trends.
. Financial gains.
. Being independent without having to rely on anyone.
. Challenges/attractions of entrepreneurship.
Lack of employment opportunities.
Family concerns balancing career and family.
Lack of career advancement/discrimination at present jobs.
‘ Organisational dynamics power/politics
Other reasons are:
‘ The desire to make a social contribution is also a strong motivating factor for women entrepreneurs. Helping others has been found to be a key factor in women choosing to become business owners.
‘ Research suggested that this caring attitude manifests in women’s leadership styles and that goals other than economic growth guide women’s businesses.
Challenges and Obstacles:
Working women, be it for employment or business have to face two fronts, the job and the home. It requires a lot of intelligence, versatility, stamina and patience to be able to balance the two sets of responsibilities. They have to make sure that the children are not affected in their upbringing and also the domestic responsibilities are discharged to the satisfaction of the men folk in the homes. Contrary to what the practice is in advanced countries, the men folk in countries like ours do not help the housewives in the domestic work. They are so programmed from generations that they collectively think for themselves that the home is a place where they only rest and get served.
In certain businesses, women entrepreneurs are doing exceedingly well and excelling their male counterparts. Women entrepreneurs face two types of problems:
i) General problems faced by all entrepreneurs, both men and women.
ii) Problems specific to women. Male dominated society, family responsibilities, lack of education, discrimination and lack of confidence are the examples of problems specific to women entrepreneurs.
Given these unfavourable conditions, the development of women entrepreneurship is expectedly low in this country as compared to their male counterparts.
The problems are further discussed below:
(A) General Problems
(1) Problem of Finance
Finance is regarded as the “life-blood” for any business, be it big or small. However, there are times when women entrepreneurs suffer from shortage of finance on two counts. Firstly, some women do not have property on their names to use them as collateral for obtaining funds from external sources. Secondly, they sometimes find it difficult to obtain working capital and fixed capital from the organised sector, mainly due to lack of security. As a result the banks are reluctant to provide finance to women enterprises for the fear of default. Given such situation, women entrepreneurs are bound to rely on their own savings, if any, and loans from friends and relatives which are expectedly meagre and negligible thus, women enterprises fail due to the shortage of finance. However, of late, the situation has changed, and a number of banks have developed special financial schemes for women enterprises. It is also becoming common for women to acquire loans from banks and other financial institutions on their own as they are becoming more independent and self-reliant.
(2) Scarcity of Raw Materials
Most of the women enterprises are plagued by the scarcity of raw materials and other necessary inputs. Added to this is the high prices of raw materials on one hand, and getting raw material at reasonable discount, on the other.
(3) Marketing Problems
The women entrepreneurs face the problem of marketing. Many up-coming women entrepreneurs do not have organisational setup to pump in a lot of money for canvassing and advertisement. Thus, they have to face stiff competition for marketing their products. Most have to depend on the word-of-mouth to market their goods and services. They also lack skills in pricing and promotion. However, at present, some women entrepreneurs are getting support from NGOS, and Government agencies in marketing their products. There are also others who run private owned enterprises who have learnt to market their products and services well as a result of being in that trade for a reasonable period of time.
(4) Lack of Education
Illiteracy is the root cause of socio-economic problems. Due to lack of education and/or lack of awareness, most women are not aware of business opportunities, technology development and market conditions. Also, lack of education causes low achievement motivation among women. There are so many women who have the ability to excel and grow in business but due to this one problem their immense strength and potential remains unrecognized and untapped. However, lately, this trend has changed, and females, especially in urban areas do get good education, in~ eluding management and technical education. The spread of education and increased awareness are aiding women to spread their wings into the areas which were the monopoly of men.
(5) High Cost of Production
High cost of production is another problem Which undermines the emergency and restricts the development of women enterprises.
(6) Low need for Achievement
Need for achievement, independence and autonomy are the pre requisites for success in entrepreneurship. In the absence of the required urge to achieve, few women succeed as entrepreneurs.
(7) Poor Quality Control
The entrepreneurs in general face the problem of quality control. There is lack of emphasis on quality in most of the enterprises. Therefore, the sales of small enterprises do get affected.
(8) Low Labour Productivity
The labour productivity. is low in most of the small enterprises, and women enterprises are no exception. The labour productivity is low due to poor recruitment and selection, faulty placements, lack of training and development, etc.
(9) Laek of Professional Management
There is lack of professional management. The lack of professionalism is due to the following:
Use of outdated technology ~ 0 Over emphasis on profit objective.
Lack of social responsibility.
Poor personnel policies, etc.
(10) Problems of Technology
The women entrepreneurs face the problem of technology. They sometimes use outdated technology. This is mainly due to lack of funds, and lack of awareness 0f modern technology. The fore, the overall performance of women enterprises gets affected.
(11) Lack of Management Skills
The lack of management skills and low levels of management training are issues facing women’s entrepreneurial ventures, particularly in the case of micro enterprises. Support organisations cite a lack of sales and marketing skills as the most commonly reported problem faced by female entrepreneurs after finance.
In addition to the above problems, inadequate infrastructural facilities, power shortages, high fuel costs which results in high cost of production, social attitude, low self-esteem, dependence on other people for survival and socio-economic constraints also hold the women back from entering into business.
Women entrepreneurs have to face special problems.due to their gender. The special problems faced by women entrepreneurs are as follows:
In Kenya and many other third world and developing countries, it is mainly a woman’s duty to look after the.children and other family members apart from the business work. In our society the lady of the house has a social obligation to look after the day-today chores of the household, such as cleaning, cooking, caring for her children etc. Man plays a secondary role only. In case of a married woman, she has to strike a fine balance between her business and family. Her total involvement in family leaves little or no energy and time to devote for business. The success of a married Woman depends upon a supporting husband and family. There arises a role conflict in many women entrepreneurs. Such conflicts prevent them from taking prompt decisions in business.
In closely-knit families, the support and approval of husbands seem necessary condition for women’s entry into’ business. Then, there are other marital problems which a woman has to encounter. Some women end up in abusive relationships which has a negative effect on the woman’s seIf-esteem.
As far as male entrepreneurs are concerned, they can concentrate only on business work, and not on household aspects. Theta fore, the women entrepreneurs have a disadvantage as compared to their male counterparts. However, these days the scene has slightly changed as career couples share more or less equal responsibility on the home front but still, it will be difficult to erase centuries old tradition from peoples’ minds where the woman is the homemaker.
Women suffer from male reservations about a woman’s role, ability and capacity and are treated accordingly. Although the society speaks of equality between sexes but in practice, women are not treated equal to men.
Despite constitutional equality, there is discrimination against women. In a traditional bound society, women suffer from male reservations. Sometimes, women entrepreneurs find it difficult to manage male workers. The male workers either ignore the instructions given by women managers or they don’t take them seriously. For a long time leadership has always been considered a manly affair. That is the reason they look down upon women managers, including women entrepreneurs. However, this trend has changed in many places, and women entrepreneurs do not find much difficulty in managing male workers, especially when the women possess good managerial skills.
Low Risk-bearing Ability
Women in Third World and developing nations lead a protected life. Either they are less educated or economically not self-dependent. All these reduce their ability to bear risk involved in running an enterprise. Risk-bearing is an essential requisite of a successful entrepreneur.
Often women entrepreneurs prefer stabilization of income and minimization of risk over maximization of income. Women entrepreneurs are security-oriented rather than growth-oriented.
One of the biggest handicaps for women entrepreneurs is mobility of travelling from place to place. 1 he women mobility is highly limited as compared to male entrepreneurs. This is due to various reasons. Some laws are unfavourable to women. In many areas, especially when dealing with the government departments, they need the consent of their husbands or fathers in order to process certain documents.
Businesswomen need a good deal of travelling for conferences, meetings, negotiations, etc.However, the attitude towards women is bit reserved. For instance, a single woman asking for a room in a hotel is still looked upon with suspicion.
Insecurity is another major issue. A woman cannot travel freely at anytime, anywhere. Crimes against women are on the rise at an alarming rate.
While women entrepreneurs have demonstrated their potential, the fact remains that they are capable of contributing much more than what they already have. In order to harness their potential and for their continued growth and development, it is necessary to formulate appropriate strategies for stimulating, supporting and sustaining their efforts in this direction.
What Needs To be Done
Several national and international organizations and agencies have appreciated the need for and importance of developing women entrepreneurs in recent years. The general consensus that is emerging in all discussions relating to the development of women is that promotion of women entrepreneurs should form an integral part of all development efforts. The government, together with all the stakeholders should initiate development programmes for women entrepreneurs.
In Bangladesh, the success of Grameen Bank and other microcredit institutions prove that, when provided access to capital and appropriate sup~ PO“. Women, their families, and communities flourish. Dr Muhammad
Yunus started the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh as a microfinance organization and community development bank that makes small loans (known as microcredit) to the impoverished without requiring collateral. The system of this bank is based on the idea that the poor have skills that are underutilised. Dr Yunus is also known as the ”Banker to the poor.” He established the Bank in 1983, fueled by the belief that credit is a fundamental human right. His objective was to help poor people escape from poverty by providing loans on terms suitable to them and by teaching them a few sound financial principles so they could help themselves.
If we need to become a more competitive and dynamic economy, we need more entrepreneurs. And we definitely need more dynamic women entrepreneurs. Africa as a whole has vast opportunties. The continent is so far behind other regions in terms of consumer goods, infrastructure and services.
In Kenya, participation of women as industrial entrepreneurs, however, is comparatively a recent phenomenon. In the present context women are not only generating employment for themselves, they are also providing employment to others. Kenya needs to mobilize and fully utilize all its resources including human resources. The women’s participation in the economic activities is not only necessary from a human resource point of view but it is essential even for raising the status of women in the society.
Today, the economic status of women is accepted as an indicator of a society’s stage of development. It therefore, becomes imperative for the government to frame policies for the development of entrepreneurship among women. The long term objectives of the development programmes for women should aim to raise their economic as well as their social status in order to bring them in the forefront of development.
In order to achieve this, due recognition and not just lip service has to be given to the role and contribution of women in the various social, economic, political and cultural activities. Though there is an increase in the ‘ number of women entrepreneurs, the progress is slow. Saddled with household work, domestic responsibilities and jobs, women still do not find it either possible or desirable for total involvement in entrepreneurial activities.
The development of women entrepreneurship should form an integral part of the entire development process. The following strategies should be adopted.
(i) Education and Awareness
There should be a centre aimed at accelerating and facilitating the process of entrepreneurial learning among women. Women must use strategies that accelerate the pace of their learning about . business that allows them to build strategic partnerships and alliances within their business community.
(ii) Organise workshops and seminars
Workshops and seminars should be organized frequently for the officials of the financial and support agencies and for women entrepreneurs in order to make their relations more cordial.
(iii) Group Entrepreneurship
Group entrepreneurship is a viable option for the weaker sections of the society and it helps women to overcome their poverty. It empowers women and provides the necessary confidence for entrepreneurship. Women organizations, women’s co-operatives and NGOs should be promoted to consist self-employment for poor women.
iv) Simplified Procedures
Procedures for financial assistance by banks and government agencies must be simplified.
(V) Better Time Management
Shouldering the dual responsibilities of an entrepreneur and a homemaker can be effectively undertaken by a woman entrepreneur through better time management. If possible, she can involve the family members in the business and if not then she can ask for their cooperation and understanding.
(vi) Home-based Business
A woman can set-up home based business by operating her business from home, she can co-ordinate her household and business responsibilities simultaneously. But, it also depends on the kind of trade she is in.
(vii) Efficient use of Information Technology
Effective and efficient use of Information Technology like the Internet can help in assimilating information about the variety range, quality of the products in the market as well as publicity and marketing of products and services.
(viii) Financial Assistance
Collateral security should be dispensed with in the case of women entrepreneurs. Special financial departments for women may be opened in various public financial institutions and banks for providing easy finance to women entrepreneurs. finance may be provided at concessional rates of interest and on repayment baSIS.
Training centres, part time training facilities, especially during aftenoons and evenings (for those who are working) will attract more women to acquire skills.
Other means of support can be:
Encouraging and assisting relevant business support initiatives. General information and education programmes.
Mentoring programmes and Support for networking structures
Support for women entrepreneurs should be provided with the knowledge, support and participation (where appropriate) of male family members.
Employers’ organizations and business associations can play avery valuable supporting role in assisting women entrepreneurs. There is also a largely untapped market for new members among women entrepreneurs.
Women require more awareness of market in formation and marketing approaches, as well as modem means of distribution to enable them to have greater access to national and international markets.
Where possible, integrated approaches to the economic empowerment of women should be developed, including support for literacy, skills training, legal rights, health education and HIV awareness, combined with entrepreneurship and access to credit.
Many women, especially young graduates and school leavers need to be made aware of entrepreneurship and enterprise development as positive career options. Role models and promotional videos contribute to a supportive context.
By developing a systematic knowledge base and compiling facts and figures on the status of women entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs’ voice will be taken more seriously by policy-makers.
The media, both print and electronic should provide a good support to women entrepreneurs. For instance, they can give good coverage relating to the achievement of top business women. Such media coverage creates awareness and confidence in the minds of the women folk to enter into the world of business.
Family members need to support the genuine efforts of women entrepreneurs. The mindset of families is changing. Nowadays, parents, children, in-laws and husbands are providing adequate support to women entrepreneurs. Nowadays, women entrepreneurs need not look after household chores, as they can get the housework done through housemaids or through the other members of the family. The family support goes a long way in encouraging women entrepreneurs to concentrate on their business activities.
Training schemes should be designed that women can take full advantage of mobiletraining centres, part time training facilities especially during afternoons, evenings or the weekends will attract more women to acquire skills.
There should be special awards for the outstanding achievements made by women businesswomen in various fields. These can be manged by NGO’s, government organizations and the private sector. For example ‘Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur ” or “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” awards can be organised, The special awards provide encouragement to the women entrepreneurs to Venture in business field and excel. The winners of such awards can prove to be role models for upcoming women entrepreneurs. In the absence of such awards, women entrepreneurs may lack the motNation to venture in the business field.
The Government and Non-govemmental organizations should introduce several schemes for the benefit of women entrepreneurs. Some of the important schemes include:
Special financial schemes for Women entrepreneurs
Training programmes for women entrepreneurs.
Special seminars and workshops for women entrepreneurs.
Tax benefits to women entrepreneurs.
With the assistance from the family members and the government, women can 30m the main streams of national economy. If the government is serious about poverty alleviation then it should do all it can to support the mm of women. Is should provide a forum after a period of time which can shed new light on women’s business performance, and on their pins and aspirations in relation to the growth of their enterprises. Women are facing major constraints in establishing and running businesses. Such forum can be used to address such issues. Women should also be made aware on the importance of charting their own destiny. Women need to sop relying on other people for their survival and happiness. Gender discrimination is encountered at every stage of business development and other areas, and if the woman is weak academically and financially then it is easy for her to always be the victim and be subjected to violence and injustice. In some societies women simply have no value. It’s almost tav boo to conceive a girl and if it so happens, it is not perceived as a joyous addition to the family. In some parts of the world, girls are still killed before or after birth. Some women are not allowed to own property, vote or drive cars. The business world is not kind to women either, not be cause a woman does not possess the skills to run successful businesses, but because her predicted success is arrived at by how well she places herself into a predominantly male industry.