Women entrepreneurship in the south Asian developing countries can improve the economies of these countries and decrease their level of poverty. The dissertation portrays and assess the constraints that women have to face in these countries to start something on their own. It also evaluates the limitations that education and human capital have on the businesses that they start. Some of the solutions to these problems have been addressed by the governments of these countries by introducing policies that help prevent the rights of these women and enable to do something on their own. On the other hand, microfinance institutions have been playing an important role to provide small loan to these women so they do not lack physical capital. Different stakeholders have been trying to provide solutions but the limitations still exist due to socio cultural thought of mind that the people carry in those countries. Microfinance institutions might provide them with one thing that Is the finance but lack in providing them the other essential factors like training and pathways to market. In this research work, the reasons for which women feel the need to become entrepreneurs will be discussed. Moreover, it will evaluate that how successful have these policies been till this date to promote entrepreneurship in these women.
Poverty is one of the biggest problem in the south Asian countries. The research work will include how can women entrepreneurship effect the rate of poverty in the south Asian countries. Many ways and solutions have been given till date to eradicate poverty and a lot of solutions are challenged or given every day across the globe.
In today's world you either need money or an idea to be an entrepreneur. The rich would invest physical and human capital whereas the poor could invest into human capital to come up with an idea that helps him get out of poverty.
The millennium development goals in 2010 and the sustainable development goals in 2015 include the problem of poverty as one of its major problems. Women entrepreneurship is one way to achieve this goal and other comparatively less important goals like quality education and gender equality. If more opportunities are provided to women to become entrepreneurs than they will have a major contribution to their family's income resulting in poverty reduction. When more women are given opportunities, they will work more to increase their family's standard of living to bring it to a point where there family can get all the basics that are required. Women entrepreneurship is another way of reducing gender inequality in the South Asian Countries where women are though to a less valuable commodity compared to their male counterpart. If a woman can overcome the constraints in these developing countries to start something on her own than the odds are that she might be successful in what she wants to achieve. Moreover, about 50% of the world's population are women but they have less freedom and opportunity to control their lives as compared to men (Revenga & Sudhir, 2012).
Microfinance institutions play a major role in creating entrepreneurs specially women entrepreneurs in the society. These poor women are provided capital from these institutions which helps them work on their ideas or start a small work that can help them earn enough to maintain a specific standard of living. Capital is not just enough to create entrepreneurs. Everyone needs training on the work they do. So, many of these microfinance institutions now play a key role in training the people that they loan out money to.
The world has become so globalized that the women in these areas now know some of their rights. Microfinance institutions have a played a key role in the creation of women entrepreneurs in these societies. They not only aware them of their rights but provide them the trust with the capital that they require to start something on their own. Another reason why these microfinance institutions have been so successful is that these women return back the same trust in the form of capital that they are provided with initially.
My research will address the following major question:
- What are constraints that women entrepreneurs' face in the south Asian countries?
- What are the factors that are required for women to be good successful entrepreneurs?
- What is the effect of education on the rate of increase in women entrepreneurship?
- Does microfinance institutions act as an accelerator to boost entrepreneurship in women who are willing to put in the human capital and have ideas but lack physical capital?
In the developing Asian countries, development of women's entrepreneurship has a great potential to grow and empower women to bring a positive change in these countries. In countries where the economic development is still low, the probability that women will start something on their own remains low (Tambunan, 2009).
It was observed that only lesser than 10% of the entrepreneurs in the south Asian region that includes countries Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan were women (Sinhal, 2005), (Kantor. 2001) and (Goheer, 2003).
There are three categories of women entrepreneurs in the south Asian region that include chance, forced and created. This means that some started their businesses because they got the chance to do it without any specific goals, some of them had to do it because they did not have any other option and the last ones were those who are actually educated and taught to become entrepreneurs (Sinha, 2003), (Seymour, 2001) and (Walokar, 2001).
Das (2000) came to a conclusion that one of the most important reason for women to start something on their own was their financial conditions. Working conditions for these women are critical than any other part of the asia because the culture in the lower class of this region does not accepts a working woman (Sinhal, 2005).
Additionally, there are some women who intentionally want to start something on their own to support their family but the society does not accept it. The society believes that the men of the family are more superior so the women's business has to be of less or no significance (Ahl, 2006). When people think of women as second gender and ignore them, they are actually undervaluing an enormous potential of human resources (Minniti and Arenius, 2003).
Women entrepreneurs often contribute enough to their families to handle their daily day to day expenses and to fulfil their domestic responsibilities (Bertaux & Crable, 2007). In the last decade, women entrepreneurship has been an untapped source of economic growth (Georgeta, 2012).
The GEM women's report 2012 stated the figures that about 126 million women were starting to become entrepreneurs and about 98 million were running their already established businesses. The problem is that these figures does not give us an exact overview of the women worldwide because things are different in the developing Asia. According to this same report, the greatest gender inequality was reported to be in the Mid Asia where men were four times that of women (Sarfaraz, Faghih and Majd, 2014).
According to a research in Pakistan, the most important reason why women start their businesses is to achieve work life balance where their business gives them partial control over their families and get the freedom to overcome their social responsibilities (Rehman, 2012). The most important constraints that they have to face in the Islamic culture of Pakistan is to balance their time between their work and home, gender inequality with the socio cultural norms that the society carries along (Roomi, 2012).
Poverty has a great link with economic development. When economy develops, the rate of poverty decreases. The economic development depends on the type and quality of gender composition and entrepreneurial activity (Sarafarz, 2014).
Women comprise of almost fifty percent of the population around the world but still have less opportunities to control their lives as compared to men (Revenga and Sudhir, 2012).
Different organizations work to fulfill the demands of the resources that the poor women need to start or pursue their businesses successfully (Mansuri, 2014). A lot of times the two problems that institutions see while studying women entrepreneurship finance and managerial capital (Blanchflower and Oswald, 1998; Townsend & Karaivanov, 2006; Banarjee, 2010).
The founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh who provides microfinance to the poor for small startups stated that, “Giving poor the access to credit allows them to immediately put into practice the skills they already know” (Yunus, 1999). At the same time some people believe that the business skills and managerial capitals lacks in these south Asian developing countries (Reenen, 2010) which can be taught by different programs (Schoar, 2010).
Most of the studies suggest that women entrepreneurship is getting more common in the developing countries amongst the lower class where the women are uneducated and poor as compared to the women living in urban population hence development in women entrepreneurship in these countries can result in decreased poverty rates in these countries (Shabbir and Gregorio, 1996).
If we go back into history than the we see than entrepreneurship was originally linked to man. For instance, early characterization of entrepreneurs comprised of ‘captain of industry' (Schumpeter, 1934), the ‘enterprising man' (Colling and Moore, 1974), and ‘key man' (Hebert and Link, 1862). Women in the developing countries are a substantial source of advancement and employment even so women entrepreneurship is not vastly studied (Brush, 2009). Till this time majority of the research work that has been done on women entrepreneurship has been descriptive (Brush, 2009).
The capability exists in the South Asian females to work. The socio cultural barriers make them lack in their home countries where they lack opportunities and freedom. This can be better understood by the role of south Asian women in the Britain (Dhaliwala, 1998). A table from some old statistic (1991) about self-employment rates in Great Britain is show below (Owen, 1994).
Working self-employed (%)
Self-employed with employees (thousands)
Self-employed without employees (thousands)
It shows that a large proportion of south Asian females have been working in the Britain showing the potential that they have to become entrepreneurs (Dhaliwala, 1998). Whereas some people disagree to the statistics as they believe that there might be some invisible more women entrepreneurs that were not taken into consideration (Jennings and Cohen, 1993). On the whole the main purpose is to show the potential and capability of south Asian women to become entrepreneurs back in time as well.
In order to quicken the economy, the microfinance institutions come into action in the south Asian countries. Microfinance institutions provide low capital or assets to the poor especially of the country to start something on their own to achieve a minimum standard of living. This is for the women who might not be eligible to get loans from the banks due to their previous financial conditions (Sharma & Bhaskarjyoti, 2018).
According to a research about 62 percent of the women often start their businesses by getting loans from microfinance institutions whereas 38 percent of the women did not take help from the microfinance institutions to start their businesses (Mahmood, 2011).
Studies suggest that microfinance might not even be the most useful facility for the poor (Banarjee, Duflo, Glennerster and Kinnan, 2009); (Karlan & Zinman, 2009). The problem with the poor people especially poor women is that a lot of times these people do not have the basic education and or the experience to understand and run a low scale business furthermore these people are mostly risk-averse because they do fear of losing the little things they already have in their lives but this does not mean that they do not want to increase their standard of life (Chowdhury, 2009). Microfinance does play a role in encouraging entrepreneurship in the poor women in the developing countries like the south Asian countries but it is not sufficient enough form the to grow and succeed in their lives (Mahajan, 2005). In addition, they need to have livelihood opportunities, specially business training even if they are not educated, basic infrastructure and market linkages (). Robert Polling (2007) shares the same point of view by adding, “micro enterprises run by poor people cannot be broadly successful simply because they have increased opportunities to borrow money. For large numbers of micro enterprises to be successful, they also need access to decent roads and affordable means of moving their products to markets. They need marketing support to reach customers.”
Professor Yunus (2003) suggests that microfinance might not be the final solution to eradicate poverty since it is not a miracle cure but it might finish poverty for a few or reduce it for the rest of them.
A research done in Nepal suggested that the majority of the borrowers from the microfinance institutions were the women who wanted to ‘self-help' themselves (Rankin, 2010). According to Ozturk (2008), education in every way is one of the most important factor of development and growth. Furthermore, no country could ever have attained sustainability without investing in the human capital. Education in women promotes their entrepreneurial skill but it does not mean that without education these women can't become entrepreneurs (Ozturk, 2008). A research in Indonesia suggested that women who lacked both education and training had a very low success rate but women with any one of these had a high rate of achieving sustainability in their businesses in the long run (Tambunan, 2011). At the same time, socio cultural barriers also restrict women to get any of these so Roomi (2010) in the case of Pakistan which is an Islamic state suggests that only women training on entrepreneurship while giving away microfinance loans could lead to better women entrepreneurship success rate.
This will be a mixed research where both the qualitative and quantitative approach will be used. Both the qualitative and the quantitative research are a must to find the real findings to the problems. The qualitative research will be used to identify the reason why these women decided to start something own their own. It will let us know their person reasons and the circumstances in which they started it and how did it all go. For this prupose, 12 interviews will be conducted in some of the south Asian countries that will mainly include Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal. The interviews will mainly focus the successful women entrepreneurs, the struggling women that are trying to build up something on their own. Moreover, interviews of the officials of microfinance institutions will also be conducted. The women that will be interviewed will be asked about the reasons why they initially decided to start something on their own to know if most of them started them because of chance, will or force. They will be asked the ground reality to understand the constraints thay they fave when they decide to do something on their own. The questions of the interview will focus on the factors like education and microfinance to understand the effect of these factors on their businesses that is about how did they limit their work. Interviews of the officials of the microfinance institutions will be done that are governed by the governments of these developing countries. A special interview will be conducted of the chief executive officer of Akhuwat foundation that is a NGO in Pakistan. The NGO does different social works but it is popular for its microfinance counterpart. The NGO claims that it follows a policy where it gives small micro loans to the poor people in the country especially women to start something on their own. They provide training to these women and give them a path to the market where they can introduce their products or services. The NGO claims that it does not charge any interest on the amount that it loans out to these people. The mechanism according to their officials is that their donors donate money which is loaned out. In addition, they claim that the poor people who they provide loans are the majority of their donors. Any interview of their CEO might help us understand their business model more clearly and understand the real significance that they have been able to make in the life of the poor by providing them microfinance.
The quantitative research will be done to find that how many women did on average actually face some of the common problems. It will let us know the average problems that the women actually faced and the rate of success and failure for these ladies. For this, questionnaires will be done in the rural parts of some of the south Asian countries in their own mother language but the challenge of getting those questionnaires done is that most of these women are illiterate so we will try focusing on more of those women who at least have some primary education. For the rest of the women we will try to do some small conversations with them and try to get the answers for most of the questionnaire questions. Most of the field work for my research will be done in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
For the rest of the countries, the data will be collected from the world bank and from their respected government official websites.
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