Female Entrepreneurship and its Challenges in the Developing World

Lucy Stepanyan
4 min readDec 30, 2020

Female-owned enterprises play a crucial role in the economic development of a country. Female entrepreneurs employ more women, which in its turn increases the female labor force participation rates, helps in fighting against trafficking, results in increased innovative capacities and private sector development. Successful female entrepreneurs pave the way for the future generations of young, aspiring women and shape more equitable and inclusive societies as a result.

Despite their importance, the numbers of female entrepreneurs in developing countries are disproportionately low. The development of female entrepreneurship highly depends on the cultural, religious, and social norms of a given country. Some of the main challenges of female entrepreneurs in developing nations are highlighted in this article.

Gender Roles and Cultural barriers

Women entrepreneurs in most developing countries have extra responsibilities at home, which their male counterparts are deprived of. The household chores are unevenly distributed, with the main burden falling on the female, despite her status, education, background, and ability to generate income. This unfair “division” of labor is more often than not the result of the gender stereotypes that are imposed by the male-dominated, traditional societies. The female entrepreneur has to juggle the roles of a mother, housewife, businesswoman, leader, wife, and a member of society. In case she performs poorly in any of those roles, she is heavily judged by the members of her family and the society as a whole. If she prioritizes work, she is labeled as a careerist; in case she devotes more time to her family, she is deemed incompetent by the professional community.

Lack of Professional Network

Another challenge that women entrepreneurs face is the lack of a professional network. Historically, men had more access to the political network, which provided them with the opportunities for starting businesses, raising capital, finding cheaper offices for rent, and leveraging the power of their network to promote their businesses (Goswami, 2019). Women, on the other hand, have less professional connections as men hold the majority of the positions in the decision-making bodies. In traditional…

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Lucy Stepanyan

Founder @SourceStack, International Development specialist, “Tech for Good” enthusiast, Trainer, Writer, Business Owner.