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Women’s entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa

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Presentation on theme: "Women’s entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa"— Presentation transcript:

1 Women’s entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa
Susan Joekes

2 Why this topic? Macro factor: entrepreneurship as precondition for creation of SMEs that generate bulk of MENA jobs and counteract inequality WEE: entrepreneurship as self-actualized economic activity - within what limits? Entrepreneurship as agency -self insertion in the monetised economic/market sphere; MENA - has lowest levels of female economic activity by standard measures (low LFPR, high unemployment). Is involvement in entrepreneurship similarly low?

3 Research sources Much qualitative social anthropological and feminist research on MENA countries Two main quantitative data sources: World Bank national enterprise surveys (normally 5+ workers, registered) ; (see World Bank n.d. (c. 2008) main author Nadereh Chamlou) Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) national survey data; 10 MENA countries , (see IDRC 2010 GEM MENA Regional Report 2009; Reynolds, P.D., 2011, and 2012 IDRC-OECD working paper forthcoming)

4 Definitions and data SME = small and medium enterprises, not micro self-employment – i.e. business operations GEM carries out national population survey APS; sample size (GEM Annual Reports and Country Reports, 80+ countries over15 yrs) APS asks representative sample of adults about their entrepreneurial activities, skills, experience, perceptions, labour force status, sources of advice, finance, the age, size, focus of their business, jobs created and expected, and more GEM project has no interest in or information on business registration (i.e. informality)

5 Facts of the situation (10+ MENA countries)
Prevalence of women entrepreneurs varies by age of the business (cf rest of world) (GEM data) Nascent entrepreneurs - 30% (40%) Infant businesses – < 30% (> 40%) Young and mature businesses - < 20% (40%) These levels generally higher than the share of women in paid employment in MENA countries Fewer women entrepreneurs than men overall and an elimination/evaporation effect at successive stages of the business ‘life course’

6 Facts of the situation cont.
Women entrepreneurs/ventures similar to men’s at each stage of business life course In terms of size, productivity (controlling by sector - sectoral distribution differs) (WB/Chamlou n.d.), size of team, ability to deal with ‘regulatory’ (i.e.systemic) problems (GEM) Women entrepreneurs say they lack skill, technology, expectations, finance - but not significantly more than men (GEM) Women’s lack of confidence/experience is significantly greater than men’s, a function of lesser work experience (GEM)

7 Explanations? Not known if elimination effect reflects persistently low rates of survival of women’s businesses or a generational change. Women from previous generations may have been less likely to be entrepreneurs in their early adult years (and so less represented now among mature firm owner-managers) but the new cohort of women entrepreneurs have low levels of education whereas established women entrepreneurs relatively well educated (but biased by Moroccan data). May be a stable phenomenon related to socio-cultural norms and household income

8 Evidence gaps and inferences
Selection bias in data means characteristics of drop-out firms unknown GEM question on causes of ‘discontinuance’ of business - higher reports of ‘personal incidents’ among women Variations in distribution of entrepreneurs by household income: Morocco, Yemen – relatively high share of women are from poor hhs Lebanon, UAE – relatively high share of women are from richest hhs Poorest can’t afford to observe social norms, richest have social power to ignore them; in between, women’s agency is denied Re business entry: legal/regulatory framework seems non-discriminatory; but 2nd order effects?

9 Information gaps and policy challenges
Need panel data to assess dynamics Need more on reasons for ‘discontinuance’ (extra GEM modules/questions?); more research on legal/framework issues by gender and on the interplay between ‘market’ and ‘social’ spheres. Determinants of SME growth include a large random element; policy controversies around the time point of interventions and macro/public vs micro program supports. How to locate WEE policies in that context? How to ensure that the SME sphere resists the gender unequalizing trends seen in labour markets in India, China? Desirable outcomes for WEE: probabilities of business entry and progress not gender biased women entrepreneurs don’t perpetuate gender discrimination in their employment practices.

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