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.
While there is much concern over the lack of female entrepreneurs in first world countries, the gender gap in developing countries is even greater. Poverty, lack of proper identifying information, and little to no access to banking services, leaves more than 1.3 billion women out of the formal financial system. These women then lack the basic financial tools necessary for asset ownership and economic empowerment. But is this the only obstacle?
Oftentimes women are the sole breadwinners or are responsible for the day-to-day chores necessary to keep their family fed and clothed. This becomes a major challenge to starting a business. Not only is access to capital necessary to fund the early investment of their venture but it’s also needed to hire out their current role so they can put the time and effort into building a thriving business. To walk away from their current responsibilities and obligations is not an option without a safety net.