Women’s entrepreneurship in the world

Women’s entrepreneurship in the world

TCHUIDJEU Mbakam Blondelle, EO-204i, KNEU


Female entrepreneurship is interested in a specific profile of entrepreneurs, that of women. A woman entrepreneur as defined by Dina Lavoie (1988) are those “who, alone or with one or more partner (s), founded, bought or accepted in inheritance a business, which assumes all the risks and financial, administrative and social responsibilities and who participates in its daily management on a daily basis. ”

Thus defined, it will be a question for us to define the concept of female entrepreneurship, to talk about the entrepreneurial spirit among women, to give the specifics of this entrepreneurship, to present the modes of financing, and finally the obstacles.


The term entrepreneurship comes from the verb to undertake which, according to the Universal dictionary means “to decide to do something and commit to its execution” and from the noun enterprise which, according to the same dictionary is “an economic unit of production for commercial purposes of goods and services »1 (*)

Entrepreneurship therefore includes all economic activities, including production and marketing.

According to Y. GASSE and A. d’AMOURS, entrepreneurship is “the appropriation of human, material and financial resources with the aim of creating, developing, and implementing solutions allowing to meet the needs of individuals. » 2(*)

As for the adjective qualifier feminine, the Universal Dictionary refers to “what is specific to the woman or considered as such”.

Female entrepreneurship is therefore this spirit of initiative of women which manifests itself in a preponderant way; women tend to organize themselves given the resources available to meet their needs. NDONGO and OUDRAOGO 3(*) define it as: “a set of activities set up and managed by the women themselves regardless of the size of the company”.

Female entrepreneurship finally designates the activities of women who support themselves, who organize themselves to create profitable economic activities in the formal and / or informal sectors. It is a question here, as G.TCHOUASSI 4(*) says, «of the feminine dynamics which is manifested by a spirit of admirable creativity.”

Female entrepreneurship therefore aims to improve individual and collective living conditions, in short, development which today has a diversity of definitions.


Werner Sombart 5(*) defines entrepreneurship as the set of psychic qualities required for the successful completion of a business. Passion for money, love for adventures, inventiveness, etc. are the traits of entrepreneurship. As D. LARUE says to dissociate the entrepreneur from the non-entrepreneur, we must add to the spirit of enterprise the bourgeois spirit which is characterized by prudence, circumspection, reason, calculation, order and economy 6 (*).

The ideal entrepreneur first stands out for his entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurial culture is not a creation ex Nihilo Creation ex Nihilo corresponds to creations by an individual or a group (employee, unemployed,) of a company carrying out a new activity.

This logic underlines “the independence of the young company, the fact that the initiative is that of the entrepreneur and that there is something new and not the simple continuation of an existing activity”. But may be a takeover, technological enterprise, craft, etc.

As for Albert and Marion 7 (*), they consider that the entrepreneurial spirit consists in “identifying opportunities and gathering sufficient resources and of different natures to transform them into companies”.

The results of a survey carried out in Burkina 8 (*) showed that in more than half of the cases it was the need for independence (24%) and the need for entrepreneurship (27%) that pushed the respondents. to get into business. 33% of the MER (Micro Entreprises Rurales) have in their families a person who exercises the same profession as them, and 16% of them inherited their business.

One can thus affirm with Marcel LANCELIN 9(*), having noted a rapid development of the self-employment and the creation of company by women during the Eighties, that the spirit of enterprise among women is due to their “aspiration for economic independence and the quest for autonomy”.

More and more women are taking care of several other people. As some studies have confirmed, household size has increased more for female-headed households. In many fields, it is often the contributions of women which allow the family to live in decent conditions10 (*). The development of micro businesses is particularly important for women because they find the additional income they so badly need to ensure the survival of their families and children.

In addition, this rise in female entrepreneurship is part of this vast movement of innovation and initiative which makes it possible to diversify the profits of entrepreneurs and to register their creations of activities within the framework of the continuous structural adjustment of local economies11 (*).


It is generally accepted that women, because “mothers” are naturally inclined to undertake for the survival of the whole family. This is what makes, among other things, the specificity of female entrepreneurship. In addition, female entrepreneurship is characterized by specific funding methods.

Women who still manage to start their own businesses do so at the lowest level. Due to the variety of obstacles and the different socio-economic levels involved, women entrepreneurs are not a homogeneous group because they have very diverse motivations, interests and above all potentials. Beyond their differences, micro-enterprises led by women have certain common characteristics:

– They generally exercise in areas of skills they have acquired in the family sphere;

– They have very low capital;

– Activities are generally not declared and operate in the informal sector of the economy;

– Production is generally done at home;

– They are all concentrated in the least profitable sectors;

– Since economic activity is superimposed on housework and the education of children, women cannot pay sustained attention to economic activity;

– Production is sold locally;

– The means of transport are painful.

In under-developed countries women carry out several economic activities with the aim of improving their living conditions and participating in the socio-economic development. Thus, we observe women working in the informal sector (small trade) and those working in formal groups.

Beyond the differences linked to the sector of activity, the activities led by women have common characteristics:

– Women generally exercise in the area of ​​skills they have acquired in the domestic sphere;

– The entrepreneurial activities of women start with a very low capital;

– Production is generally not specified and is done at home (local production flow).

Through their work, their creativity and their sense of initiative, the women of Africa have today imposed themselves in their society as essential actors. But how do they finance their initiatives?


According to Professor NSIMBA LUZOLO, 13 (*) the correct financing of a project is one of the conditions of success of this project. He distinguishes 3 sources of capital including equity, borrowed capital and aid.

Equity includes share capital and self-financing (it can be found in the reserves, retained earnings, provisions, amortization) accounts.

The borrowed capital is made up of long and medium term debts. These funds can come from banking and non-bank financial institutions (commercial banks and savings and credit unions); but also obligations.

Aid is generally distributed by the State or the local authority. They are financial (subsidies, repayable advances, loan guarantees), fiscal (tax exemption, tax reductions and abatement) or even social (exemption from social charges).

Charles HOANG14 (*) believes that to start his business, the creator must make an optimal choice of his financial resources. He thus distinguishes two main resources: equity and debts.

– Equity represents the contributions made by associates and the subsidies obtained by government agencies. For him, subsidies also become directly equity.

– Debts, indebtedness represent the amounts that will have to be borrowed (short term, medium and long term) to compensate for the lack of equity.

We have tried to discuss in this point the main means of financing a business. There are also others that are specific to female entrepreneurship.

According to recent studies, only around 5% of the African population benefits from paid employment in the formal sector of the economy (De Hertz and Marysse,). The majority are thus condemned to live in the informal sector, exercising small survival activities such as small trade, peri-urban agriculture (particularly market gardening), animal husbandry, the sale of agricultural products, food, etc.

People engaged in this kind of activity, mostly women, face funding problems. Since they do not have capital and cannot provide banks with the usual guarantees, they have practically no access to the formal credit system (Bock and Wilcke,).

However, there are other sources of financing such as personal and family savings, tontines and credit granted to micro enterprises by MFIs.

Personal and family savings

For the past thirty years, the funding of micro-enterprises, whether women or not, has not changed. Over 90% of these businesses are funded by personal and family savings, with most business owners having problems finding initial funds. Help yourself and heaven will help you!

This is the maxim of the micro entrepreneur who must in two thirds of the cases find only the financing of his business before hoping to complete his stake with a family contribution, possibly tontinier or MFIs15 (*).

The tontines

According to M. LELART16 (*), it is difficult to define African tontines because there are several variants. The best known in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the “likelemba”. Originally, it was a very old practice which formerly consisted in entrusting the treasure of the clan in the hands of the “lemba” by requiring him to carry out the essential expenses.

It has become especially in the cities an association in which the members pool all or part of their “salary”, their assets and entrust it to one of them, in turn. This practice, especially observed in women, has a number of characteristics.

Above all, this continental phenomenon has an informal character. African tontines are based on the personalization of the relationships that unite the members. This personalization of the members makes it possible to better situate informal finance in relation to institutional finance. Informal finance has the following characteristics:

– absence of conditions: no authorization to request, no steps to be taken, no guarantees to provide, no formalities to be completed, no deadlines to be met;

– Absence of management fees: administration is reduced to a minimum, a notebook where the names and the amounts paid and returned are registered;

– Absence of a fixed framework: tontines can group together a few members or a few hundred and last a few weeks or several years;

– Lack of control by the Central Bank.

The continental phenomenon is also of a financial nature. Although mutual tontines do not carry any interest, the member who pays his share has a counterpart of an equivalent claim which will increase with each turn. Receivables and debts which offset each other perfectly during the whole cycle are canceled at the last turn.

In commercial tontines, on the contrary, the customer who puts his money in safety in the hands of the legal tender sees his claim increasing every time. The tontinier sees his debt increase by as much. These commercial tontines are therefore accompanied by interest. The debt of the tontinier and the debt of his customers progress in parallel until the repayment17 (*).

Micro credits granted by MFIs

The conditions for granting micro credit required by the various Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) can be classified in descending order of importance as follows: be a member of the cooperative, have a deposit (savings in the MFI), own a piece of land, be part of a solidarity group, be a good producer and have a seniority of at least six months in a revenue-generating activity.

As can be seen, these conditions already exclude a certain number of micro-entrepreneurs who cannot fulfill this or that other condition. As often the internal objective of microfinance institutions is to have a good repayment rate, they would rather make sure that the lender is potentially creditworthy. In doing so, they leave out a whole category of applicants who could perhaps prove to be successful in managing the loan. This is why women in particular use tontines.

Other sources of funding

The other sources of financing of the micro and small enterprise can be classified according to the following typology: extended family, associative savings, member savings, lenders and loan sharks18 (*).


Entrepreneurship is the other way to reduce unemployment at the macro level. Constraints relating to the formation of companies and the creation of businesses in a formal way are obstacles to the promotion of entrepreneurship and initiative.

The creation of activities as well as the creation of businesses are not obvious, because the spirit of enterprise always rests on the conjunction of a favorable institutional environment, well-designed public programs and favorable cultural factors. The constraints can be of several orders of which the principal are expressed as it follows: administrative constraints, financial constraints, fiscal constraints, cultural constraints19 (*)

Women face many obstacles relating to the launch of their economic activities. These are mainly psychological, socio-cultural, professional, infrastructural, legal obstacles and even obstacles linked to the educational level of women.

Psychological obstacles

In fact, women sometimes lack self-confidence or even have a negative image of them. This psychological factor should not be overlooked with regard to women. In addition, women find it difficult to reconcile their family roles and the time constraints involved in carrying out economic activity.

Socio-cultural obstacles

At the socio-cultural level, unfavorable prejudices against women obstruct their activities. This cultural ascendancy would also explain the restriction concerning the choice of the sector of activity of women. To this, one can add the level of education of women which is generally low. The education of the girl is full of prejudices. This greatly reduces the chances of girls and women of receiving vocational training.

Infrastructure obstacles

In terms of infrastructure barriers, access to credit, technology, support services and information is difficult for women. The existing supervisory structures seem very insufficient for the supervision of the female masses. It should also be noted here that the transport and communications system is very limited.

The absence of an incentive environment

Interventions to promote female entrepreneurship do not achieve satisfactory results because the economic environment is not favorable. These are in particular general development policies, fiscal and monetary policies and legislation.


General development policies, fiscal and monetary policies are important when it comes to developing female entrepreneurship. Micro-enterprises are languishing under the weight of taxation, which generally discourages women.


The administrative regulations and procedures which lead to registration in the commercial register represent a bottleneck for young companies.

The institutions

Representations of organizations providing financial services are very weak in the city. This state of affairs considerably reduces the capacities of women due to the scarcity of capital.


In conclusion, it was a question for us to analyze the entrepreneurship of women in the world. The main objective of this study consisted in the development of scientific work. To achieve this objective, we asked ourselves the following questions, constituting our problem: What do we mean by female entrepreneurship? What are the specificities of female entrepreneurship, methods of financing female entrepreneurship and the main obstacles to female entrepreneurship?

It turns out that female entrepreneurship is a mode of entrepreneurship specific to women.

Several motivational factors of female entrepreneurship have been revealed, notably unemployment, divorce, increased family responsibilities and autonomy. There are many sources of finance, including husband, loans, parents and brothers, and personal savings.

However, it emerges that foreign financing occupies a significant part, including husbands 50%. This is foreign to the fact that not constituting equity. And obstacles to female entrepreneurship, mostly psychological, socio-cultural, political and legislative.

We believe that women are more capable of entrepreneurship than ordinary men because they have a big heart and are ready to take huge risks for their success and that of their family.


* 1 Universal Dictionary, 1988 P 421

* 2 GASSE YVON, OF LOVE Aline (1993), profession entrepreneurs, the editions transcontinatales inc Foundation of entrepreneurship, 1993, P 23

* 3 Cited by GASSE. YVON, D’AMOUR, op cit, P 315

* 4G. TCHOUASSI, limits of the functioning of the State / market couple: an exploratory analysis of women’s social and solidarity entrepreneurship, Ville, 2005, P52.

* 5 Werner Sombart, Op. Cit. ; p. 8-9.

* 6 D. LARUE and CAILLOT A., Economy of Company coedit. Hachette-licet, Paris, 1984.

* 7 Albert. , S. Marion, “to open teaching to the spirit of entrepreneur”, the Echos19 / 20, September 1997, p. 34.

* 8 J. L. CAMILLERI, op.cit., P.36

* 9 M. LANCELIN, «Some elements of reflexion on the problems of savings and credit», in Tchnique financial and development in the spirit of enterprise, ED AUPELF-UREF, Paris, 1993, P .4

* 10 B. CANDIDA, the women and the creation of the companies the women heads of companies: overview, local initiatives of job creations, entrepreneurship in women, O.C.D.E, Paris, 1990, P.42

* 11 G. MASIKA MAYAO, op.cit. , P14

* 12 P. MPANZU BALOMBA., Microfinance in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Case of the market garden site of N’djili / CECOMAF in Kinshasa, Thesis presented with a view to obtaining the Diploma of Specialized Studies in Rural Economics and Sociology, University Faculty of Agronomic Sciences of Gembloux (FUSAGx) and Catholic University of Louvain (UCL), 2004-2005, p. 44.

* 13 P. NSIMBA LUZOLO. , Entrepreneurship, Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), unpublished course, G3 Economie UCG – Butembo, 2005-2006.

* 14 C. HOANG Abdelhamid and SADI, Choice of financial structure, [online] [reference of February 09, 2009], available at http: //

* 15 J.L CAMILLERI., Op .cit. , P38-41

* 16 M. LELART, «the parallel circuits of financing: being of the question» in entrerepreneurship in French-speaking Africa: culture, financing and development, Ed John Libbey Eurotext, Paris, 1990, P46

* 17 C. DUPUY. , «Behaviors of saving in the African company:« Senegalese study »in LELART M. la Tontine. Informal savings and credit practice in developing countries, Ed, AUPELF-UREF, Paris, 1990, P51.

* 18 J.L. CAMILLERI, op.cit., P.125.

* 19 KASEREKA KOMBI, op.cit, P29



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.