Women's Entrepreneurship: a tool for empowerment

Updated: Feb 1

The following report is written and conducted by graduate professionals at the University of Minnesota: Ariel Loayza, Pakou Khang, and Annasimon Rizkalla.


Women's Entrepreneurship UMN Report 2020
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Research Summary

Much research today show that women experience significant increase in motivation and well-being from having financial independence and financial stability. Financial independence allows women to choose how they invest their income, such as on basic needs (i.e., food and bills), on human capital investments (i.e., education or training for themselves or their families) or on capital investments (i.e., buying a home, stocks, land, etc.). However financial stability is what’s needed to sustain these investments. This can mean having a steady, well-paying income or being able to put your earnings into a savings. While financial well-being can be achieved in traditional employment, entrepreneurship can go beyond that by challenging women to take risks and helping them recognize their personal power through networking, negotiation, and skills training. In this report, we look at women’s well-being through the pursuit of entrepreneurship and discuss the impact and limitations for women entrepreneurial opportunities in the U.S.


This image is a table organizing different research themes that were found.

Benefits of Women’s Entrepreneurship

  • Increased financial well-being. Income should be accompanied by financial management and financial literacy education or knowledge.

  • Increased or improved social networks, such as by meeting people in the workplace and by surrounding yourself with people who have similar career interests. This also includes building partnerships and a client base with your community.

  • Improved work-life balance. Many women reported they were able to balance their family life and work life better when they were business owners because they could decide their own work hours.

  • Increased confidence and skills. Being able to control their own finances and work hours, as well as being able to negotiate their business services increases the confidence and capabilities of women entrepreneurs. This also helps women to see the value of their own work.

Barriers

  • Two full-time roles. Married women or women with children may be expected to fulfill two full-time roles: housewife and breadwinner.

  • Career-family tradeoff. There is the perceived notion that women must choose between a career or starting a family, and they may be criticized for being single or for putting off marriage to pursue education or work.

  • Risks of domestic violence: Male spouses may feel de-masculinized when their wives contribute to the household income (as the sole breadwinner) or they may feel that because their wives are working, they are not adequately fulfilling their housewife role. This can lead to domestic violence and put pressure on women to leave their job.

  • Funding and training. There is little funding available for entrepreneurship ventures apart from loans. Additionally, entrepreneurial program may be inaccessible because of their cost, timing, language of instruction, or unavailability of childcare.

While research on the impact of women’s entrepreneurship is limited, this report provides insight into the literature that is available and how having an independent income can increase the well-being of women, their families, and their communities. The report also discusses women’s motivations for pursuing entrepreneurship and how the fear of failure plays a role in decision-making. The research is also limited our reach of women entrepreneurs in the interview process. The complete report contains an introduction to our research, a literature review, a methodology section, and our findings. The appendix from our original report has been removed for privacy purposes.