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FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP BARRIERS: LITERATURE REVIEW
Female entrepreneurship is a critical tool in promoting women enablement and manumission. This paper offers the literature review of the female entrepreneurship barriers from different scholars and disparate backgrounds. The studies on women entrepreneurship have attracted much attention in the recent past. In the past, the studies treated both male and female entrepreneurs alike, but with the realization that there are barriers which are only specific to female entrepreneurs, scholars have focused on the topic. The interest in the female entrepreneurship has also given the framework within which various issues of female entrepreneurship is studied. One of the areas that have drawn much attention is the challenges that inhibit women from realizing their entrepreneurial potential. This report explores the scholarly definition of women entrepreneurship and how it is related to male entrepreneurship. Further, it has examined different challenges and barriers for the female enterprise. The primary problem identified as a barrier to women entrepreneurship is lack of support from the male-dominated society since enterprise has since time in history been considered as a male endeavour. Other obstacles identified are limited access to finance, male-dominated cultures that discourage female from taking up business ventures, family position and responsibilities, lack of education, and lack of government support, among other societal issues. These barriers limit the women awareness of the opportunities as well as resources that could allow them to venture into business.
lack of confidence in women has also limited the women’s capability to invest
in entrepreneurial ventures. Women are by far much afraid of failure than men.
It takes a lot of courage for a woman to beat all odds and start a business
venture. Theorists have explored these challenges, giving insights as to why
most women fail in business, or why there is a
limited number of women entrepreneurs. This paper has further provided the recommendations and the possible
actions that can lower the barriers and empower women to meet the
entrepreneurial potential. Therefore, this paper
is a masterpiece to helping scholars to understand female entrepreneurship, concerning obstacles
and develop action plans from such barriers.
Female entrepreneurship has been considered as an essential aspect of women empowerment and strengthening. This paper explores the literature of the female entrepreneurship, with a focus on the barriers that hinder entrepreneurial culture among women. Women entrepreneurship has been termed as a critical tool for improving the quality of life among women. The barriers for entrepreneurship practices by women are many and complex and have previously been studied in depth. The relevance of this literature review is to explore the barriers and thus come up with the possible ways of removing the barriers. The paper will draw references from various parts around the globe, thus giving the global perspective of the challenge as well as the solutions to these barriers. The most significant barrier to female entrepreneurship is the gender perception and the social status of the women. To amicably lower the barrier, there is a need to empower women to venture into businesses as a way of pursuing gender equality and balanced social development.
This review shall first explore the notion of women entrepreneurship, and then its related barriers. The study combines both recent and some earlier content to give a well-rounded picture of the phenomenon.
Singh and Belwal (2008, p. 1) have defined an entrepreneur as someone who undertakes a commercial activity. Again, as quoted by in Mordi et al. (2010, p. 1), Gartner et al. (2004) define that an entrepreneur is someone “who starts a moneymaking endeavor and is also an organizational maker and also an innovator.” Entrepreneurship from an economic perspective, as defined by Dzisi (2008, p. 3), is a way of introducing something new in the society. According to Shane and Venkataraman (2000), entrepreneurship concentrates on operational characteristics, and it relates to environment conditioning opportunity, the way o realizing a gap, the assessment and utilizing the opportunity, and people who choose to exploit these opportunities.
Female entrepreneurs are such who apply the already garnered knowledge as well as resource to build and maintain business ventures, who are actively taking part in running their business, and own over half of the business enterprise, and have been operating for over a year (Farr-Wharton, 2009, p. 2). A few decades ago, entrepreneurship was considered male jurisdiction, but things have changed. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, as at 2015 over nine million US companies are owned by women, creating jobs for almost eight million people, and making over one trillion dollars in sales (NAWBO, 2015, n.p). However, according to Fernandes (2017, n.p), while the number of women entrepreneurs is still growing, there are only a few female entrepreneurs and business starters, which can make it harder to raise capital or even to find mentors.
According to Sospeter, Rwelamila, Nchimbi, and Masoud (2014), women possess similar entrepreneurship potential as their male counterparts. They are also capable of contributing to wealth accumulation and job creation and building their business empires. Regrettably, according to Hanson (2009, p. 135), this potential is far from being achieved due to the systemic barriers that female entrepreneurs face. The late entry of women into the entrepreneurship has made male entrepreneurship a standard by which female investors are measured. Women entrepreneurs face two sets of problems: the general challenges that cut across any entrepreneurial venture, and the issues that are specific to women (Fernandes, 2017, n.p). The interest of this paper is to discuss those barriers which specifically hinder women from hitting their success potential in investing and innovativeness.
Barriers to Female Entrepreneurship
Female investors often face issues that further aggravate their barrier between them and their success in business ventures. The barriers might emanate from factors like their personality, family limitations, or the surrounding from which they come from and the held expectations of the members of their community (Fernandes, 2017, s. n) as well as their perceptions. Remarkably, psychological issues have been attributed as the primary barriers to entrepreneurial success among women (Halkias, 2011, p. 221). In countries such as Pakistan, this aspect has been relatively high (Muhammad Usama Anwar, 2012, p. 18). The research conducted by GEM showed that 27% of people could not even start a venture due to the fear of failure- this affected both male and female (GEM, 2010, n.p). However, as Mordi et al. (2010, p. 5) says, this is not always the case among women, as some are willing to rise above their fears and venture into profitable business ventures.
Limited Access to Finance
Studies have consistently cited lack of financial access as the primary barrier to women entrepreneurial growth (Jamali, 2009, p. 232; Roomi et al., 2009, p. 270). Although not all businesses require external funding to start off, those who source from outside understand how the process is hectic- and it becomes more difficult when the benefactor is a woman (Fernandes, 2017, n. p). According to the report released by Babson College (2014), only 3 percent of venture-capital-funded enterprises had women. Also, according to Halkias (2011, p. 222), most of the women rely on family support or private savings (Itani et al., 2011, p. 409). Research carried out in Nigeria showed that female entrepreneurs also rely on loans, donations, programs of the government, and charity from organizations (Halkias, 2011, p. 222). Although humanitarian agencies are working to promote funding among women entrepreneurs, it remains a significant barrier faced by this category of people. As ILO (2003, n.p) points out, due to the unavailability of funding the women entrepreneurs possess little potent for the expansion of their enterprises.
Further, according to Nirmala (2015, p. 1694), women face the financial barrier due to two reasons. One, only in rare cases women have any valuable property listed by their own names such that they can use such property as security when taking loans from banking or other finance institutions. Therefore, their access to external financing is limited. Two, banks -and venture capitalists (Fernandes, 2017, n. p) too have no confidence in women credit-worthiness, and consequently, they dishearten the female entrepreneurs on the account that they can quit their business anytime. Due to this, women are subjected to relying on their private savings, which might be limited to build vast business empires. Also, according to Carter and Williams (2003, p. 125), due to the small size of the female-owned businesses and the limited prospect of expansion and productivity, they face the challenge of securing their loans against their assets to further grow their business.
In most societies especially in the developing economies, women are typically regarded lower than men (Fernandes, 2017, s. n). They are not allowed chances for leadership opportunities, and entrepreneurship has for long being viewed as male-thing. The traditional male stereotyping has made women be discouraged from pursuing business ventures. Male chauvinism is the order of the day in many places, where women are looked down upon as weaker beings. Women are victims of male reservations about woman’s ability and responsibility (Nirmala, 2015, p. 1695). This has discouraged women from entering into the business for fear of victimization and unfair competition (Calhoun, 2015, s. n) from their male counterparts.
According to Dzisi (2008, p. 254), women are often perceived as rather compliant, and acquiescent to their male partners. This typecasting presents a barrier for women leader in a male-dominated community. It becomes more difficult if the woman has to give direction to male employees who may not want to obey her. For instance, Alison Gutterman, the owner of Jelmar, notes that “as a female investor in a male-dominated sector, earning respect has been a turmoil” (Fernandes, 2017, n.p). She also notes how quickly men can ignore female ideas, especially if they are older and experienced than the female entrepreneur. Research done in Lebanon indicates societal norms and typecasting as one of the primary barriers to female entrepreneurs in the region (Jamali, 2009, 235). Also, Pakistani faces the same barrier, which is further fuelled by the patriarchal culture (ILO, 2003, n.p).
Further, the studies reveal that the mobility of women in self-employment is highly discouraged in some cultures (Goheera & Penska, 2007, n.p). Women are generally protected, and it is taken as family and household matter when they are seen venturing into businesses. In places such as India, women are limited in the mobility aspect such that a woman seen asking for a room is treated as a different. Cumbersome activities combined with an attitude of the authorizing officials discourage females from venturing into business activities.
Family Position and Responsibilities
In many developing countries, men are considered the bread-winners while the women are taken as caregivers whose movement outside their homes is limited. Therefore, a woman might become reluctant in pursuing a business venture with a fear that it might bring strife to marriage (Nirmala, 2015, p. 1695). According to Itani et al., (2011, p. 409), there is a perception that women are housekeepers and homemakers. Such attitudes and other family responsibilities are a significant hindrance. Balancing family and business life is a major challenge for most business owners, and for women, gender perceptions and expectations prevail in this area. It requires much effort to be a business owner and be a mother, and the perception is that women can only be better entrepreneurs if they do not have children commitments.
Further, the study carried out in UAE showed that husbands do not take an active role in domestic responsibilities, and the fact that females will have to allow their kids to follow their dreams of investment is not attached any importance (Jamili, 2009). In some cases, even male members of the family do discourage women from investing (Muhammad Usama Anwar, 2012, p. 15). The utter need to clear all domestic chores leaves women very little time and energy to devote to business (Nirmala, 2015, p. 1695). This issue is further exacerbated if the family size is large and in rural areas. Support and approval of men for their women to enter into business seem critical, and if a woman is not given that, it is likely that they won’t venture into any business. However, the problem is not only for the married women, as unmarried women also face similar challenges (Mordi et al., 2010, p. 5). Parents are concerned with the future marriage prospects of their daughter and how the society will perceive her if she becomes an entrepreneur which means she is independent and dominating. Most societies view women humility and shyness as the most significant asset for any woman who desires to be married.
Lack of Education
According to Nirmala (2015, p. 1695), lack of education is the cause of all social illnesses, and due to quality education to women in areas such as India, they are unaware of business, technology, and other opportunities present for entrepreneurship. He further says that lack education has become a deterrent for women to set enterprises in India. Evidence of research carried out in Nigeria by Halkias and his associates (2011, p. 222) show that lack of education and proper funding are constraints of highest priority. It has also been attributed to the rationale why women have a high degree of fear of failure. According to the global entrepreneurship monitor established by Babson College (2012), the fear of failure is the biggest threat to the female entrepreneurship. In any business venture, failure is a possible reality that most women are afraid of facing. Even in third world nations like Australia, women are not conversant with the government projects in place established to support female entrepreneurship (Far-Wharton & Brunetto, 2007, p. 187). According to Itani and his associates (2011, p. 410), most female lack managerial skills. They also lack proper market knowledge and lack basic knowledge of running business enterprises. The ILO (2003, n.p) showed that lack of administrative skills is one of the barriers hindering female investors from pursuing their dreams.
Insufficient Government Support
Inadequate government support has further troubled the entrepreneurial activity of women. A survey in Ethiopia showed that even though governments might draw policies for them, there is a problem of implementing the announcing policies (Singh & Belwal, 2008, p. 121). The same survey identified high tax rates, corruption in public offices, and slow, formal process as other concerns. In other places, the governments might not be successful in the proper advertisement of the plans established for female participants of entrepreneurship (Farr-Wharton & Brunetto, 2007, p. 187). As the ILO report indicates, realizing the registration of a business in Pakistan is a pretty hard task, because officials of the state are not cooperative. Like in India, there is a discrepancy in the implementation of government schemes for supporting women entrepreneurial activities (Nirmala, 2015, p. 1696).
In Islamic nations, and in which case women lack the freedom to freely interact with men, it is even harder to network. Their preference for minimal interactions with men and confidentiality and trust issues make it difficult to establish business networks (Muhammad Usama Anwar, 2012, p. 15). Most women have one person in their connections whom they seek advice. According to Inc, 48% of women entrepreneurs report the lack of available connections and advisers which hinder their professional growth (Calhoun, 2015, n.p). As Hanson, the Hera hub co-working space founder thinks, “with most of the high-productive enterprises still being led by males; it can be difficult to create your way and smoothen introductions and networks into some of the more advanced business connections” (Fernandes, 2017, n.p).
Female entrepreneurship is also facing society-related barriers- harassment is a significant concern in most places. According to Mordi et al. (2010, p. 7), sexual harassment is a universal complaint in different backgrounds. The ILO (2003) report also mentions harassment. In other cases, police bullying. Essential amenities and suitable business locations are also an issue. In Africa, women entrepreneurs run their business in hostile environments which are not ideal for businesses. In places such as Pakistan, women run their business at home, where primary facilities such as power might not be available.
The following points should be considered to lower the barriers of female entrepreneurship
- There should be a constant effort to educate, inspire, and motivate women to take risks and make entrepreneurship decisions.
- The government and other NGOs should work together to empower women through financing and establishing plans that favour female entrepreneurship.
- Connections are very critical for mentorship and business development, and as a women entrepreneur, one should actively seek connections in women-focused networking groups. This could be in real life or virtually through online forums made for women in business, such as Ellevate Network (Fernandes, 2017, n.p). The connections also have peers and mentors who inspire, hit the entrepreneur’s reality checks on their abilities.
- Establishing combined male and female fora which will discuss the cultural issues holding women back and coming up with a corporate solution to male dominance in entrepreneurship.
In brief, the necessity of this work was to explore the issue of female entrepreneurship as well as the possible recommendations to alleviate the problem. Entrepreneurship has for a long time considered a male-dominated undertaking, and any woman who chooses that path is likely to face myriad of barriers, from psychological to family, to societal. The typology has given literature review of some common obstacles to female entrepreneurship. Also, it has offered recommendations, based on the barriers stated in this paper. Although women face these challenges, there have been efforts to help women to realize their potential, and it is, therefore, a corporate calling to create awareness to the available opportunities.
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