The important role that entrepreneurship plays to combat unemployment, wealth creation and the alleviation of poverty should not be underestimated, especially in regions with growing unemployment rates.
Women entrepreneurs can contribute significantly to economic development in Africa , but their contribution has not been adequately studied and developed. Although it is challenging for both men and women to start and sustain a successful business, women face unique challenges to self-employment. The objective of this study was to investigate women entrepreneurship and to make practical recommendations to enhance women entrepreneurship in the country.
A survey that included 54 women-owned businesses was conducted. Women entrepreneurs in this study were motivated by pull factors, such as the need for independence, self-fulfilment, work flexibility and a need for a challenge to self-employment. Factors such as dissatisfaction with salaried jobs and insufficient family income pushed them into self-employment.
They are currently facing obstacles, such as obtaining finances, work-home conflict, lack of education and training in business and management skills. They, furthermore, indicated financial support, business training and advice, the need to network with other business owners and marketing support as their main support needs. Practical recommendations are suggested to Government and women entrepreneurs to overcome these obstacles and to ensure that women entrepreneurs can sufficiently contribute to the economy and empower themselves economically.
Objectives of this Study
The main objective of the study is to investigate women entrepreneurship in Lesotho and to make practical recommendations to stimulate the growth and success of women entrepreneurs in the country.
To achieve the main objective of the study, the following secondary objectives were formulated:
• To define women entrepreneurship within the Lesotho context.
• To obtain insight into the dynamics of women entrepreneurship by means of a literature review.
• To empirically investigate women entrepreneurship in Lesotho based on a structured questionnaire.
• To determine what motivates women in Lesotho to start their own businesses.
• To determine the unique challenges women face in managing their businesses.
• To determine the needs of women entrepreneurs with regard to support, training and development.
To suggest practical recommendations to enhance women entrepreneurship in Lesotho . Study population and sampling method
The target population of this study was micro-, very small, small and medium-sized women-owned businesses. A convenience sample was used, by means of a snowball sampling technique, to identify women-owned businesses that could participate in this study. To generate a preliminary list of women-owned businesses, well-known women-owned businesses in these regions were contacted. These women acted as informants and identified other potential women-owned businesses for inclusion in the sample. The women-owned businesses were then contacted to gauge their willingness to participate in the study. A list of 75 women-owned businesses are willing to participate in the study.
Questionnaires were mailed or delivered by hand to the women-owned businesses listed on the database. Each questionnaire included a covering letter that guaranteed the confidentiality of the responses, as well as a return-paid envelope in order to make it as easy as possible for respondents to participate in the research. A total of 54 (72% response rate) usable questionnaires were returned, which were subjected to further statistical analysis.
Data collected was statistically analysed using STATISTICA (StatSoft, 2009) and SPSS ( SPSS , 2009). Data from the questionnaires was coded, investigated for integrity, analysed and presented in useful outputs, such as frequency tables. The frequency tables were used to draw conclusions and to make recommendations regarding the development of women entrepreneurs
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