Entrepreneurs play a key role in any economy. These are the people who have the skills and initiative necessary to take good new ideas to market and make the right decisions to make the idea profitable. The reward for the risks taken is the potential economic profits the entrepreneur could earn. Technically, a "women entrepreneur" is any women who organizes and manages any enterprise, usually with considerable initiative and risk. However, quite often the term "women-owned business" is used relative to government contracting. In this instance, the entrepreneur (a woman) owns (more than 50%), controls and runs the enterprise. Data has been collected from number of articles, books, periodicals and websites. The present study has been an attempt to generate awareness and to understand meaning, history of women entrepreneurs, demography. At the end some major problems faced by women entrepreneurs, and factors influencing women entrepreneurship.
Keywords: Meaning of women entrepreneur, History of women entrepreneurs, demography, problems faced by women entrepreneurs, factors influencing women entrepreneurship,
Women entrepreneurs may be defined as a “Woman or a group of women who initiate, organize and run a business enterprise”. In the traditional society, they were confined to the four walls, playing household roles, but in the modern society, they are coming out to participate in all sorts of activities. Normally, women entrepreneurship is found in the extension of their kitchen activities, mainly in preparing commercially the 3‟P‟s namely, Pickles, Papads and Powder. Few of them venture into services industry relating to hospitality, catering, educational services, consultation or public relations, beauty clinics, etc.
Women enter entrepreneurship due to economic factors which pushed them to be on their own and urge them to do something independently. Women prefer to work from their own work residence, difficulty in getting suitable jobs and desire for social recognition motivate them towards self-employment. We see a lot of women professionals in engineering, medicine, law etc. They are also setting up hospitals, training centers, etc.
HISTORY OF WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Before the 20th century women were operating businesses as a way of supplementing income or in many cases they were simply trying to avoid poverty and making up for the loss of a spouse. The ventures that these women undertook were not known as entrepreneurial due to the time in history and usually had to yield to their domestic responsibilities. The term entrepreneur is used to describe individuals who have ideas for products and or services that they turn into a working business. In earlier times this term was reserved for men. Women became more involved in the business world after it was a more acceptable idea to society. This does not mean that there were no female entrepreneurs until that time. In the 17th century, Dutch Colonists who came to what is now known as New York City, operated under a matriarchal society. In this society many women inherited money and lands and through this inheritance and became business owners. One of the most successful women from this time was Margaret Hardenbrook Philipse, who was a merchant, and ship owner, also involved in the trading of goods. During the mid 18th century and on it was popular for women to own certain businesses like brothels, alehouses, taverns, and retail shops among others. Most of these businesses were not perceived with good reputations mostly because it was considered shameful for women to be in these positions. Society at the time frowned upon these women because it took away from their more gentle and frail nature. During the 18th and 19th centuries more women came out from under the oppression of society’s limits and began to emerge into the public eye. Despite the frowns of society women like Rebecca Lukens in 1825, took the family business of ironworks and was able to turn it into a profit generating steel business. In the 1900s due to a more progressive way of thinking and the rise of feminism, female entrepreneurs began to be more accepted and although these women entrepreneurs serviced mostly women consumers they were making great steps. Women gained the right to vote in 1920 and two years later Clara and Lillian Westropp started the institution of Women’s Savings & Loan as a way of teaching women how to be smart with their money. As each change in society happened, female entrepreneurs were there taking great gains along the way. With the boom of the textile industry and the development of the railroad and telegraph system, women like Madame C. J. Walker took advantage of the time and was able to market her hair care products in a successful way becoming the 1st African American female millionaire. Carrie Crawford Smith was the owner of an employment agency opened in 1918 and like Madame C. J. Walker, she sought to provide help to many women by giving them opportunities to work. During the Great Depression, some of these opportunities afforded to women took a seat and society seemed to have reversed its views, reverting to more traditional roles. This seemed to affect women working in the business world however, it served as a push to those involved in the entrepreneurial world. More women began starting their own businesses, just looking to survive during this time of hardship. In 1938, Hattie Moseley Austin, who had begun to sell chicken and biscuits after her husband died, opened Hattie’s Chicken Shack, in Saratoga Springs, NY. During WWII many women entered the workforce filling jobs that men had left behind to go off and fight. Many women of their own accord took these jobs as a patriotic duty along with others who started businesses of their own. Some of these woman included Pauline Trigere, who came to New York from Paris in 1937 and started a tailoring business that later turned into a high end fashion house. Also Estee Lauder at the time was working on the idea for her beauty products and officially launched in
1946 a year after the war
ended. After the war ended many men returned home injured or not at all, still
requiring women to maintain their place in the business world. The Federation
of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs were a source of encouragement to
women entrepreneurs. They often would hold workshops with already established
entrepreneurs, such as Elizabeth Arden giving advice. When the 1950s came,
women found themselves surrounded by messages everywhere, stating what their
role should be. Domesticity was the overall concern and theme that was highly
stressed during this time and women were juggling, trying to combine the home
and their career. Home based businesses helped to solve a good part of the
problem for those women who worried about being concerned mothers. Lillian
Vernon while pregnant with her first child started her own business dealing
with catalogs by investing money from wedding gifts and started filling orders
right at her kitchen table. Mary Crowley founded Home Decorating and Interiors,
as a way of helping women to work from home, by throwing parties to sell the
products right in the comfort of their own home. In an effort to avoid
criticisim and loose business from those who did not support women in business,
Bette Nesmith who developed the product “Mistake Out”, a liquid that painted
over mistakes in typing, would sign her orders B. Smith so no one would know
she was a female. From the 1960s to late 70’s another change in came about
where divorce rates were rising and many women were forced back into the role
of being a sole provider. This of course pushed them back out into the working
world where they were not well received and when the recession came many of
these women were the first to be without work. Once again the entrepreneurial
endeavors of women came to the rescue, as an effort of asserting themselves and
aiding other women in being a part of the work force. Mary Kay Ash and Ruth
Fertel of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, were part of that movement. The 1980s and
90’s were a time of reaping the hard work of all those women who worked
tirelessly for their rightful place in the work force as employees and
entrepreneurs. Martha Stewart and Vera Bradley were among the 25 percent women
who owned businesses. The public also was becoming more receptive and
encouraging to these women entrepreneurs, acknowledging the valuable
contribution they were making to the economy. The National Association of Women
Business Owners helped to push Congress to pass The Women’s business Ownership
Act in 1988, which would end discrimination in lending and also get rid of laws
that required married women to acquire their husband’s signature for all loans
and in addition the Act also gave women owned businesses a chance to compete
for government contracts. Another monumental moment for women in business was
the appointment of Susan Engeleiter to head up the Small Business
Administration in 1989. In
the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s there was more of a focus on networking
opportunities in the world of female entrepreneurs. There were many
opportunities that came about to help those who were interested in starting up
their own businesses. Support groups, organizations for educating the female
entrepreneur and other opportunities like the seminars and help with financing
came from many different sources, such as the Women’s Business Development
Center and Count Me In. Despite all these advances, the female entrepreneurs
still fell behind when compared to their male counterparts. As the 90’s came in
the availability of computers and the increasing popularity of the internet
gave a much needed boost to the women in business. This technology allowed them
to be more prevalent in the business world and showcase their skills to their
competitors. Even still with the added popularity of women in business, the availability
of technology, the support from different organizations, today female
entrepreneurs still are fighting. The economic downturn of 2008, did not serve
to help them in their quest. With the continual attention given to female
entrepreneurs and the educational programs afforded to those women who seek to
start out with their own business ventures, there is much information and help
available. Since 2000 there has been an increase in small and big ventures by
women, including one of their biggest obstacles, financing.
Studies have shown that successful women entrepreneurs start their businesses as a second or third profession. Because of their previous careers, women entrepreneurs enter the business world later on in life, around 40–60 years old. As women are now overtaking their male peers when it comes to education, having higher education degrees is one of significant characteristics that many successful female entrepreneurs have in common. The number of self-employed women has steadily increased over the past 3 decades putting them at an approximate 33 percent increase. Many women owned businesses continue to be home based operations. These types of businesses usually have limited revenue with about 80 percent of them making less than $50,000 in 2002. This group made up for about 6 percent of total women-owned businesses. Children of these female entrepreneurs are expected to boost that number as they contribute to the growing amount of female entrepreneurs. Most women owned businesses are in wholesale, retail trade and manufacturing. Female entrepreneurs have also made a name for themselves in professional, scientific and technical services, also in health care and social assistance. In 1972 women owned businesses accounted for 4.6 percent of all U. S. businesses, that was about 1.5 million self-employed women. That number increased to 2.1 million in 1979 and 3.5 million in
1984. In 1997 there were
about 5.4 million women owned businesses and in 2007 that number increased to
7.8 million. The participation of females in entrepreneurial activities does of
course vary in different amounts around the world. For example in Pakistan,
women entrepreneurs account for only 1% of this gender’s population, while in
Zambia 40% of women are engaged in this activity. The highest amounts of
females involved in entrepreneurial activities can be seen in Sub-Saharan
Africa, with 27% of the female population are. Latin America/Caribbean
economies show comparatively high percentages as well (15%). The lower numbers
are seen in the MENA/Mid-Asia region with entrepreneurial activities
registering at 4%. Developed Europe and Asia, and Israel also show low rates of
PROBLEMS FACED BY WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
Besides the above basic problems the other problems faced by women entrepreneurs are as follows:
1 Family ties:
Women in India are very emotionally attached to their families. They are supposed to attend to all the domestic work, to look after the children and other members of the family. They are over burden with family responsibilities like extra attention to husband, children and in laws which take away a lots of their time and energy. In such situation, it will be very difficult to concentrate and run the enterprise successfully.
2 Male dominated society:
Even though our constitution speaks of equality between sexes, male chauvinism is still the order of the day. Women are not treated equal to men. Their entry to business requires the approval of the head of the family. Entrepreneurship has traditionally been seen as a male preserve. All these puts a break in the growth of women entrepreneurs.
3 Lack of education:
Women are lagging far behind in the field of education. Most of the women (around sixty per cent of total women) are illiterate. Those who are educated are provided either less or inadequate education than their male counterpart partly due to early marriage, partly due to son's higher education and partly due to poverty. Due to lack of proper education, women entrepreneurs remain in dark about the development of new technology, new methods of production, marketing and other governmental support which will encourage them to flourish.
4 Social barriers:
The traditions and customs prevailed in some societies towards women sometimes stand as an obstacle before them to grow and prosper. Castes and religions dominate with one another and hinders women entrepreneurs too. In rural areas, they face more social barriers. They are always seen with suspicious eyes.
5 Shortage of raw materials:
The scarcity of raw materials, sometimes nor, availability of proper and adequate raw materials sounds the death-knell of the enterprises run by women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs really face a tough task in getting the required raw material and other necessary inputs for the enterprises when the prices are very high.
6 Problem of finance:
Women entrepreneurs stiffer a lot in raising and meeting the financial needs of the business, Bankers, creditors and financial institutes are not coming forward to provide financial assistance to women borrowers on the ground of their less credit worthiness and more chances of business failure. They also face financial problem due to blockage of funds in raw materials, work-in-progress finished goods and non-receipt of payment from customers in time.
7 Tough competitions:
Usually women entrepreneurs employ low technology in the process of production. In a market where the competition is too high, they have to fight hard to survive in the market against the organised sector and their male counterpart who have vast experience and capacity to adopt advanced technology in managing enterprises
8 High cost of production:
Several factors including inefficient management contribute to the high cost of production which stands as a stumbling block before women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs face technology obsolescence due to non-adoption or slow adoption to changing technology which is a major factor of high cost of production.
9 Low risk-bearing capacity:
Women in India are by nature weak, shy and mild. They cannot bear the amount risk which is essential for running an enterprise. Lack of education, training and financial support from outsides also reduce their ability to bear the risk involved in an enterprises.
10 Limited mobility:
Women mobility in India is highly limited and has become a problem due to traditional values and inability to drive vehicles. Moving alone and asking for a room to stay out in the night for business purposes are still looked upon with suspicious eyes. Sometimes, younger women feel uncomfortable in dealing with men who show extra interest in them than work related aspects.
11 Lack of entrepreneurial aptitude:
Lack of entrepreneurial aptitude is a matter of concern for women entrepreneurs. They have no entrepreneurial bent of mind. Even after attending various training programmes on entrepreneur ship women entrepreneurs fail to tide over the risks and troubles that may come up in an organisational working.
12 Limited managerial ability:
Management has become a specialised job which only efficient managers perform. Women entrepreneurs are not efficient in managerial functions like planning, organising, controlling, coordinating, staffing, directing, motivating etc. of an enterprise. Therefore, less and limited managerial ability of women has become a problem for them to run the enterprise successfully.
13 Legal formalities:
Fulfilling the legal formalities required for running an enterprise becomes an upheaval task on the part of an women entrepreneur because of the prevalence of corrupt practices in government offices and procedural delays for various licenses, electricity, water and shed allotments. In such situations women entrepreneurs find it hard to concentrate on the smooth working of the enterprise.
14 Exploitation by middle men:
Since women cannot run around for marketing, distribution and money collection, they have to depend on middle men for the above activities. Middle men tend to exploit them in the guise of helping. They add their own profit margin which result in less sales and lesser profit.
15 Lack of self confidence:
Women entrepreneurs because of their inherent nature, lack of self-confidence which is essentially a motivating factor in running an enterprise successfully. They have to strive hard to strike a balance between managing a family and managing an enterprise. Sometimes she has to sacrifice her entrepreneurial urge in order to strike a balance between the two.
FACTORS INFLUENCING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
1 PUSH FACTORS- Push factors are elements of necessity such as insufficicient family income, dissatisfaction with salaries job, difficulty in finding work and a need for flexible work schedule because of family responsibilities. These factors may have more importance for women than for men.
2 PULL FACTORS-Factors that work as entrepreneurial drive factors relate to independence, self-fulfillment, entrepreneurial drive and desire for wealth, power and social status, co-operation and support of family members and a strong network of contacts. The most prominent factor is self achievement expressed in terms of challenge which helps women to start, run their own business and turn it into a profitable venture. When a strong need for achievement could not be fulfilled through a salaried position or when there was a desire to transform a perceived opportunity into a marketable idea, then these factors work for a person to stat their own venture.
IMPLICATIONS OF WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
A recent international study found that women from low to middle income countries (such as Russia and the Philippines) were more likely to enter early stage entrepreneurship when compared to those of higher income countries (such as Belgium, Sweden and Australia). A significant factor that may play a role in this disparity can be contributed to the fact that women from low income countries often seek an additional means of income to support themselves and their families. Overall, 40 to 50 per cent of all small businesses are owned by women in developing countries. Alternatively, this may also be due to the fact that, in western business practices, it is not seen as beneficial to exhibit feminine traits. While eastern businesses tend to follow methods based around mutual respect and understanding, western business expectations are for business leaders to be more ruthless, headstrong and less sensitive or respectful. "In the grab for power women use whatever means available to them, whereas a man would take a club to his opponents head a woman is more likely use other less forceful and more subversive measures. Lets just own it we have different weapons in our arsenal." Female entrepreneurs make up for approximately 1/3 of all entrepreneurs globally. According to one study, in 2012 there was an approximate 126 million women that were either starting or already running new businesses in various economies all over the world. As far as those who were already established, there was an approximate 98 million. Not only are these women running or starting their own businesses but they are also employing others, so that they are participating in the growth of their respective economies.
A study title "Barriers of Women Entrepreneurs: A Study in Bangalore Urban District", in India has concluded that Despite all this constraints, successful women entrepreneurs do exist. Women entrepreneurs have evidently more to ‘acquire’ than their male counterparts. But, the socio-cultural environment in which women are born and raised hinders them. Social customs, caste restrictions, culture restraints and norms leave women lagging behind men.
CHALLENGES OF WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
Even though women entrepreneurship and the formation of women business networks is steadily rising, there are a number of challenges and obstacles that female entrepreneurs face. One major challenge that many women entrepreneurs may face is the traditional gender-roles society may still have on women. Entrepreneurship is still considered as a male-dominated field, and it may be difficult to surpass these conventional views. Other than dealing with the dominant stereotype, women entrepreneurs are facing several obstacles related to their businesses.
One explanation for lower levels of entrepreneurship among women is the idea that women tend to be less interested in the opportunity of self-employment. It is assumed that as a result, significantly fewer women than men own and manage their own businesses. What are the explanations for that difference in interest? Disincentives for women to start their own business can either be found in the perception of women of
themselves being an entrepreneur or in barriers perceived by women in their environment.
Related to the first reason, lower self-confidence and lower risk tolerance of women is often mentioned in research. Next to that, it seems that gender-role stereotypes and discrimination prevent women to access to information networks, assistance, finance,
and investment funds. On the other hand, the balance between private life and work is often mentioned as an incentive for women to start their own businesses. They can be their own boss and can determine their own agenda’s. This is also the reason for female businesses often remaining rather small. This business size contradicts with the male norm of entrepreneurship, which is focused on pursuing growth and profit maximization
OBSTACLES SPECIFIC TO STARTING NEW FIRMS
External finance and sex discrimination.
In general, women have lower personal financial assets than men. This means that for a given opportunity and equally capable individual, women must secure additional resources compared to men in order to exploit the opportunity because they control less capital. A question that has developed into its own sub-field in the women’s entrepreneurship literature is if women have a harder time getting finance than men for the same business opportunity. A specific solution for solving women’s difficulties for obtaining financing has been microfinancing. Microfinance is a financial institution that has become exceptionally popular especially in developing economies
OBSTACLES SPECIFIC TO MANAGING A SMALL
Studies on women entrepreneurs show that women have to cope with stereotypic attitudes towards women on a daily basis. Business relations as customers, suppliers, banks, etc. constantly remind the entrepreneur that she is different, sometimes in a positive way such as by praising her for being a successful entrepreneur even though being a woman. Employees tend to mix the perceptions of the manager with their images of female role models leading to mixed expectations on the woman manager to be a manager as well as a “mother”. The workload associated with being a small business manager is also not easily combined with taking care of children and a family. However, even if the revenues are somewhat smaller, women entrepreneurs feel more in control and happier with their situation than if they worked as an employee. Women entrepreneurship has been recognised as an important source of economic growth. Women entrepreneurs create new jobs for themselves and others and also provide society with different solutions to management, organisation and business problems. However, they still represent a minority of all entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs often face gender-based barriers to starting and growing their businesses, like discriminatory property, matrimonial and inheritance laws and/or cultural practices; lack of access to formal finance mechanisms; limited mobility and access to information and networks, etc.
Women’s entrepreneurship can make a particularly strong contribution to the economic well-being of the family and communities, poverty reduction and women’s empowerment, thus contributing to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Thus, governments across the world as well as various developmental organizations are actively undertaking promotion of women entrepreneurs through various schemes, incentives and promotional measures.
Women entrepreneurs in the four southern states and Maharashtra account for over 50% of all women-led small-scale industrial units in India.
OBSTACLES SPECIFIC TO GROWING FIRMS
A specific problem of women entrepreneurs seems to be their inability to achieve growth especially sales growth. Another previously addressed issue is finance and as stated previously, the entrepreneurial process is somewhat dependent on initial conditions. In other words, as women often have a difficult time to assemble external resources, they start less ambitious firms that can be financed to a greater degree by their own available resources. This also has consequences for the future growth of the firm. Basically, firms with more resources at start-up have a higher probability to grow than firms with fewer resources. By resources is meant here societal position, human resources and financial resources. This initial endowment in the firm is therefore of great importance for firm survival and especially for firm growth. Despite that many women entrepreneurs face growth barriers, they are still able to achieve substantial firm growth. There are examples of that both in a number of developing economies (Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia) surveyed by the ILO, as well as in more developed economies such as the United States.
Some countries are made up of male dominated society and women are assumed to be economically as well as socially dependent on male members. Women entrepreneurs faced lots of problems like lack of education, social barriers, legal formalities, high cost of production, male dominated society, limited managerial ability, lack of self confidence etc. Various factors like Pull and Push factors influencing women entrepreneurs.
Women have the potential the potential and determination to setup, uphold and supervise their own enterprise in a very systematic manner, appropriate support and encouragement from the society, family, government can make these women entrepreneur a part of mainstream of national ecomomy and they can contribute to the economy progress of their country of residence