Study Of Women Entrepreneurship In North India

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The objective of this study is to investigate women entrepreneurship in North India and to make recommendations to enhance women entrepreneurship in the country. A survey that included 108 women-owned businesses was conducted. Women entrepreneurs in this study were motivated by pull factors, such as the need for independence, self-fulfillment, 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 overcome the obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs so that they can contribute to the economy and empower themselves economically.

Keywords: women entrepreneurship, small and medium-sized businesses, motivational factors, obstacles, self-employment.

I Introduction

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It is estimated that women own and manage up to one third of all businesses in developed countries (Nelton, 1998). The global outlook for female entrepreneurs however, has never been encouraging (Riebe, 2003). In addition, it is evident that the entrepreneurial activity of the female entrepreneurs is making a distinct difference in their communities and economies, in both the developed and developing countries (Hisrich et al., 1997). Starr and Yudkin (1996) claim that little information exists about women entrepreneurs' business practices, survival and growth strategies and their perceptions of entrepreneurial careers. (Henry, 2002) stated that female entrepreneurship is an under-researched area with tremendous economic potential and one that requires special attention. (Carter et al., 2002) add further and state that despite the extent of women entrepreneurs' involvement in new business formation, the economic impact of women led businesses has been down-played. Women Entrepreneurship is an emerging reality and the concept of women entrepreneurs is becoming a global phenomenon today. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), women represent more than one third of all people involved in entrepreneurial activity and more likely to play an even greater role when informal sectors are considered (Minnuti et al., 2005).

The challenges that women entrepreneurs face in North India have not been adequately studied and developed. The focus of this study was micro-, very small, small and medium-sized women-owned businesses.

II Problem Statement

In this study, it is thus imperative to explore why there are still a relatively small number of women entrepreneurs in comparison with their male counterparts in North India and to determine whether the Indian environment is aligned with global initiatives to promote women entrepreneurship. Research on women entrepreneurship remains limited within the Indian context and this has a direct influence on the formulation and implementation of policies and support programmes with regard to women entrepreneurship activity. There is ample justification, against the barren background of scientific value-added research, to pursue more earnest investigations into the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in North India.

III Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study is to investigate women entrepreneurship in North India 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 North India context.

To obtain insight into the dynamics of women entrepreneurship by means of a literature review.

To empirically investigate women entrepreneurship in North India based on a structured questionnaire.

To determine what motivates women in North India 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 North India.

IV Literature Review

Cooper (1981) proposed that three factors influence entrepreneurship antecedent influences (i.e., background factors such as family influences and genetic factors that affect motivation, skills and knowledge), the "incubator organization" (i.e., the nature of the organization that the entrepreneur was employed in just prior to starting a business, the skills learned there), and environmental factors (e.g., economic conditions, access to venture capital and support services; role models). Research from western nations indicates that women and men differ on some of the above factors. For example, women have greater difficulties in acquiring venture capital, lack financial resources and skills (Aldrich, 1989, Hurley, 1991); have fewer informal support systems and networks (DeWine and Casbolt (1989), and have less direct, relevant experience than men (e.g., Stevenson, 1986). While the major reasons for starting a business are similar for men and women, some differences have also been found. For example, according to Lavoie (1992), potential for financial gain was not the primary motivating factor for women; women were more likely to start a business for the challenge and opportunity for self-fulfillment.

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The various push-and-pull factors exist that can motivate women to start their own businesses (Heilman and Chen, 2003 as well as Botha 2006). Maas and Herrington, 2006 defined push factors as the more negative factors, such as unemployment and retrenchment, which force people to become entrepreneurial in order to survive. They regard pull factors to be the more positive factors, such as government support and role models, which might influence people to choose entrepreneurship as a career option. Only one-fifth of women are drawn into entrepreneurship by pull factors. The rest are forced into entrepreneurship by push factors (Ghosh and Cheruvalath 2007).

A summary of relevant literature regarding push-and-pull motivational factors to women entrepreneurs is presented in Table 1. Refer to detailed discussions of these factors in the studies by Kock (2008), Lebakeng (2008) and Meyer (2009).

Table 1 Literature Review on Pull and Push Motivational Factors

PULL MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS

Motivational factor

Relevant literature

Need for independence

Hughes (2006:109); Smith-Hunter (2006:28); Greene, Hart, Gatewood, Bush and Carter (2005:71); McClelland, Swail, Bell and Ibbotson (2005:85); Baeva (2004:2); Bradley and Boles (2003:12, 301); Jalbert (2000:16); Orhan (1999:2); Chavan and Agrawal (1998:1); Marlow (1997:208); Hisrich and Peters (1996:98); McKay (2001:149)

Provides a challenge (need a challenge)

Hughes (2006:109); Buttner and Moore (1997:42)

Improved financial opportunity

Hughes (2006:109); Marlow (1997:208)

Self-fulfillment

Segal, Borgia and Schoenfeld (2005:3); Hughes (2006:109); Bruni, Gherardi and Poggio (2004a:260); Jalbert (2000:16); Buttner and Moore (1997:34)

Desire to be own boss

DeMartino and Barbato (2003:830); Hughes (2006:109); Bradley and Boles (2003:12)

Flexibility for balancing family and work

Segal et al.(2005:3); Carter, Gartner, Shaver and Gatewood, (2003:17); Hughes (2006:109); Lombard (2001:216)

Potential to develop a hobby

Bradley and Boles (2003:301); Marlow (1997:208)

Social status and lack of recognition (personal achievement, to be reckoned in the community)

Eckel and Grossman (2002:288); Mallon and Cohen (2001:225)

Role models and other people's influence (friends and family)

Anna, Chandler, Jansen and Mero (2000:392)

PUSH MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS

Dissatisfaction with salaried jobs (job/career frustration)

Ghosh and Cheruvalath (2007:149); Segal et al.(2005:3); Bradley and Boles (2003:6); Tanguchi (2002:882); McKay (2001:152); DeMartino and Barbato (2002:818); Catley and Hamilton (1998:76); Marlow (1997:208); Lee-Gosselin and Grisé (1990:420)

Redundancy (lost your job, retrenched)

Hughes (2006:109)

Lack of available work

Hughes (2006:109)

Insufficient family income (need to supplement family income)

Segal et al.(2005:3); DeMartino and Barbato (2002:816); McKay (2001:149);

Hitting the glass ceiling

McClelland et al. (2005:85); Georgellis and Wall (2004:1); Hokkanen and Autio (1998:7)

Need for a flexible work schedule

Ghosh and Cheruvalath (2007:149); DeMartino and Barbato (2002:818); Lee-Gosselin and Grisé (1990:420)

It is essential to determine the factors that might inhibit entrepreneurial activity among women, taking into consideration the large contribution women entrepreneurs can make to the economy. Other obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs include being accepted as a woman in business, lack of a role model, lack of professional interaction, difficulties in gaining the confidence of their clients and suppliers, lack of adequate training, and lack of related experience (Belcourt, et al, 1991, Collerette & Aubry, 1990, Goffee & Scase, 1985, Hisrich & Brush, 1986, Kent, 1988, Lee-Gosselin and Grise, 1990, Timmons, 1986).

While these are important issues, many researchers feel that tension between personal lives and career pursuits is the most significant problem that women entrepreneurs face (e.g., Belcourt, et al, 1991, LeeGosseling & Grise, 1990, Neider, 1987). For example, Neider (1987) found in a study on female entrepreneurs in Florida that tension between personal life and career was a major problem for these women. Husbands are generally not very involved in their wives' businesses, are not supportive of them (e.g., Decarlo & Lyons, 1978; Flesher & Hollman, 1980; Goffee and Scasse, 1985) and expect them to continue with their household duties despite the demands of their business (Goffee and Scasse, 1985). This, perhaps, is not surprising for until recently, women were confined to private, domestic roles. The role of the entrepreneur did not conform to the traditional roles that women were expected to play in society. These factors, and others, may result in female owners facing more work family conflicts than their male counterparts.

Table 2 provides a summary of the relevant literature discussing the obstacles and challenges facing women entrepreneurs (also refer to Meyer 2009; Kock, 2008; Lebakeng, 2008; Botha, 2006).

Table 2- Relevant Literature on obstacles and challenges

Obstacles

Relevant literature

Lack of business management skills

Kock (2008:103); Coleman (2007:315); Maas and Herrington (2006:41); Brindley (2005:154); McClelland et al.(2005:4); Welter (2004:214); Kantor (2001:6); Boden and Nucci (2000:348); Catley and Hamilton (1998:77); Lee-Gosselin and Grisé (1990:427); Kuratko and Welsch (1994:333); Katepa-Kalala (1999:7)

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Lack of education and training (in general)

Coleman (2007:315); Botha (2006:146); Maas and Herrington (2006:41); McClelland et al. (2005:11); Kuratko and Welsch (1994:332); Birley, Moss and Saunders(1987:281)

Inter-role conflict (work/home conflict)

Kock (2008:103); Ahl (2006:605); Bruni, Gherardi and Poggio (2004b:416); Winn (2004:148); Chell (2001:159); Mazzarol, Volery, Doss and Thein (1999:58), Breen, Calvert and Oliver(1995:447); Cannon (1991:334); Catley and Hamilton (1998:78); Mallette and McGuinness (1998:1); Watson (2003:263), Chell and Baines (1998:119); Kuratko and Welsch (1994:333)

Lack of business management skills

Kock (2008:103); Coleman (2007:315); Maas and Herrington (2006:41); Brindley (2005:154); McClelland et al. (2005:4); Welter (2004:214); Kantor (2001:6); Boden and Nucci (2000:348); Catley and Hamilton (1998:77); Lee-Gosselin and Grisé (1990:427); Kuratko and Welsch (1994:333); Katepa-Kalala (1999:7)

Lack of education and training (in general)

Coleman (2007:315); Botha (2006:146); Maas and Herrington (2006:41); McClelland et al. (2005:11); Kuratko and Welsch (1994:332); Birley, Moss and Saunders (1987:281)

Inter-role conflict (work/home conflict)

Kock (2008:103); Ahl (2006:605); Bruni, Gherardi and Poggio (2004b:416); Winn (2004:148); Chell (2001:159); Mazzarol, Volery, Doss and Thein (1999:58), Breen, Calvert and Oliver (1995:447); Cannon (1991:334); Catley and Hamilton (1998:78); Mallette and McGuinness (1998:1); Watson (2003:263), Chell and Baines (1998:119); Kuratko and Welsch (1994:333)

Other researchers have suggested that women are more likely to start a business for control over the quantity and quality of work and as an option to limitations in career advancement (Belcourt, et al, 1991; Berard & Brown, 1994; Charest, 1994).

V Research Methodology

Development of the measuring instrument

The literature study provided valuable insight into the identification of aspects influencing women entrepreneurship. Structured questionnaire was used to gather data for this study. Information was gathered regarding the biographical information of the participating women entrepreneurs, the structure of their businesses, the motivational factors for starting their businesses, the obstacles that they are currently experiencing and their support and development needs.

Study population and sampling method

The target population of this study was micro-, very small, small and medium-sized women-owned businesses in North India. 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 150 women-owned businesses willing to participate in the study in the Himachal, Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh was compiled as a result of these efforts.

Data collection

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 108 (72% response rate) usable questionnaires were returned, which were subjected to further statistical analysis.

Statistical analysis

Data collected was statistically analyzed using SPSS (SPSS, 2009). Data from the questionnaires was coded, investigated for integrity, analyzed 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 in North India.

VI Data Analysis and Interpretation

Biographical information of respondents

Biographical information of the owner-managers of the participating women-owned businesses was obtained, including their age group classification; marital status and highest academic qualification (see Table 3).

Table 3- Biographical information of the respondents

Variable

Frequency

Percentage

Age group category

Younger than 19 years old

-

-

Between 20 to 29 years old

-

-

Between 30 to 39 years old

42

38.89%

Between 40 to 49 years old

46

42.59%

Between 50 to 59 years old

16

14.81%

Older than 60 years old

4

3.70%

Marital status

Single

8

7.41%

Married

74

68.52%

Divorced

4

3.70%

Widowed

20

18.52%

Not indicated

2

1.85%

Highest academic qualification

Below Higher Secondary

22

20.37%

Higher Secondary

8

7.41%

Senior Secondary

20

18.52%

Certificate Course

12

11.11%

Diploma

16

14.81%

Bachelor Degree

18

16.67%

Post-graduate Degree

12

11.11%

It is apparent from the results that the participating women entrepreneurs are relatively experienced (older than 30 years), but a major concern is that 28% of them obtained a highest academic qualification lower than Senior Secondary.

Structure of the participating businesses

Information on the structure of the participating women-owned businesses was gathered and is presented in Table 4

Table 4- Structure of the participating businesses

Variable

Frequency

Percentage

Business size (permanent employees)

Myself (micro)

24

22.22%

Between 2 to 4 employees (micro)

28

25.93%

Between 5 to 10 employees (very small)

34

31.48%

Between 11 to 25 employees (small)

8

7.41%

Between 26 to 50 employees (small)

-

-

Between 51 to 200 employees (medium)

2

1.85%

Not indicated

12

11.11%

Industry

Retail trade

24

22,22%

Wholesale

4

3.70%

Services

26

24.07%

Manufacturing

16

14.81%

Accommodation

4

3.70%

Food

-

-

Agriculture

26

24.07%

Other

8

7.41%

Legal status

Sole proprietorship

90

83.34%

Partnership

4

3.70%

Close corporation (CC)

10

9.26%

Company (Private)

4

3.70%

Business premises

Home-based

46

42.59%

Business Centre / Market

44

40.74%

Industrial area

6

5.56%

Agricultural land

4

3.70%

Not indicated

8

7.41%

.

Most of the women-owned businesses that participated in this study are operated as sole proprietorships (83.34%) either from home (42.59%) or in the Market of the relative near by area , are very small (not bigger than 10 employees) and are operating in the retail trade (22.22%), services (24.07%) and agricultural (24.07%) sectors, respectively.

Business start-up information

Information gathered concerning the funding used during the start-up of the businesses, the age of the participating businesses, the existence of role models, the experience of entrepreneurs before self-employment and the path to business ownership is presented in Table 5

Table 5- Information regarding Business Start-up

Variable

Frequency

Percentage

Start-up funding

Personal savings

60

55.56%

Relatives

8

7.41%

Household/spouse

10

9.26%

Sold business

-

-

Bank loan

16

14.81%

Other

14

6.03%

Role models owning businesses

Yes

52

48.15%

No

48

44.44%

Not indicated

8

7.41%

Experience before self-employment

Unemployed

24

22.22%

Self-employed

8

7.41%

Worker

36

33.33%

Supervisor

10

9.26%

Middle management

30

27.78%

Top management

-

-

Path to business ownership

Founder

88

81.48%

Purchased

2

1.86%

Join/inherited family business

14

12.96%

Not indicated/other

4

3.70%

The majority of the participating women-owned businesses was founded by the current owner-managers (81.48%) and used personal savings (55.56%) as start-up funding.

.

Motivation to self-employment

The purpose of this section was to determine the main motivational factors for women entrepreneurs entering self-employment. The results can be utilized to determine the influence of these motivational factors on the specific development needs of women entrepreneurs. It is presented in Table 6.

Table 6- Motivation to self-employment

Variable

Frequency

Percentage

Need for independence

90

83.33%

Need for flexible schedules

62

57.41%

Need for a challenge

36

33.33%

Dissatisfaction with salaried jobs (job/career frustration)

36

33.33%

Social status (personal achievement, to be recognized in the community)

24

22.22%

Role models and other people's influence (friends and family members)

24

22.22%

Insufficient family income (need to supplement family income)

24

22.22%

Brings high income (desire for health)

20

18.52%

Redundancy (lost your job, retrenchment)

18

16.67%

Ensure high job security

18

16.67%

Difficulty in finding a job

14

12.96%

Develop hobby

12

11.11%

Entered the family business

4

3.7%

Family tradition

2

1.9%

Table 6 indicates that a total of 90 (83.33%) of the businesses were established because the women entrepreneurs needed independence. This is followed by 62 (57.41%) women entrepreneurs who were motivated by the need for flexible schedules.

The need for a challenge and dissatisfaction with their salaried jobs motivated 36 (33.33%) of the women entrepreneurs, respectively. Social status, role models and the influences of other people, including friends and family members, and insufficient family income, motivated 24 (22.22%) women entrepreneurs. In addition, the desire for wealth motivated only 20 (18.52%) women entrepreneurs. A total of nine (16.67%) entrepreneurs indicated that they were motivated by high job security and redundancy. Only 14 (12.96%) women entrepreneurs were motivated by the difficulty in finding a job and 12 (11.11%) were motivated by the further development and expansion of their hobby.

Obstacles facing participating women entrepreneurs

The respondents were requested to indicate the obstacles that they are facing while managing their businesses (Table 7).

Table 7-Obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs

Obstacles

Frequency

Percentage

Lack of business management skills

74

68.52%

Lack of education and training

70

64.815

Inter-role conflict

50

46.3%

Lack of female role models

38

35.19%

Lack of timely business information

38

35.19%

Risk adverse (great fear of failure)

38

35.19%

Pressure of childcare

36

33.33%

Inequality of access to credit

28

25.93%

Lack of self-confidence

18

16.67%

Inhibiting laws and regulations

16

14.81%

Family pressures

12

11.11%

Isolation from business network

12

11.11%

Socio-cultural environment

6

5.56%

Table 7 shows that 68.52%, representing 74 women entrepreneurs, indicated that they lack business management skills, while 64.81% (70) lack education and training. A total of 46.3% (50) of the women face the problem of inter-role conflict. A total of 38 women entrepreneurs are inhibited by a lack of timely information, a lack of role models and are highly risk averse, representing 35.19%, respectively.

Thirty Six (33.33%) women entrepreneurs indicated the pressure of childcare as an inhibitor. The inequality of access to credit is indicated by 28 (25.93%) women entrepreneurs, while 18 (16.67%) women entrepreneurs lack self-confidence in performing their entrepreneurial activities.

Furthermore, 14.81% (16) women entrepreneurs are, according to their perceptions, inhibited by laws and regulations. Family pressure and the isolation from business networks are problems faced by 11.11% (12) of women entrepreneurs, respectively. The last problem, encountered by 5.5% (6) of the participating women entrepreneurs, is the negative influences of the socio-cultural environment.

Support needs and development of women-entrepreneurs

In developing women entrepreneurship both the government and the private sector should be committed to take action to actively develop women entrepreneurs. It is important to understand whether women entrepreneurs have knowledge about organizations specifically established for women entrepreneurship development. The knowledge of organizations established specifically to support the women entrepreneur is very crucial in the development of women entrepreneurship.

The participating women entrepreneurs were asked if they have any knowledge of organizations specifically established for women entrepreneurship development. Out of 108 women entrepreneurs, only 16 have knowledge about organizations established specifically for women entrepreneurs, representing 14.81%, while 70.37% (76) do not have knowledge about any of those organizations. Another 16 (14.81) women did not indicate whether they have knowledge or not.

The training received is part of entrepreneurship development, and as a result it was included in the analysis. The results of the analysis are presented in Table 8 below.

Table 8-Support needs and development of women-entrepreneurs

Type of training received

Frequency

Percentage

Technical skills

22

84.62%

Communication skills

18

69.23%

Accounting skills

18

69.23%

Management skills

26

100%

Technological skills

8

30.77%

Twenty Six of the participating 108 women entrepreneurs indicated that they received training from government agencies or the private sector. A total of 22 (84.62%) received training in technical skills, while 18 (69.23%) received training in communication skills. In addition, the other 18 (69.23%) women entrepreneurs received training in accounting skills. Furthermore, 26 (100%) received communication skills training, while eight (30.77%) received technological skills training.

The participating women entrepreneurs were furthermore requested to indicate whether a specific support need is applicable to them (refer to Table 9).

Table 9- Requirements of specific support needs

Specific need

Frequency

Percentage

Training/knowledge/skill

84

77.78%

Financial support

78

72.22%

Tools, equipment, machinery

68

62.96%

Business advice, information, counseling

50

46.3%

Networking with other business owners

50

46.3%

Suitable business premises

42

38.89%

Marketing support

36

33.33%

Computer

26

24.07%

Internet services

26

24.07%

Technical support

20

18.52%

Infrastructure (roads, telephone, electricity)

18

16.67%

Transport

12

11.11%

Table 9 shows that out of the 108 participating women entrepreneurs in the North India study, 78 (72.22%) indicated that they need financial support to develop their businesses, while 84 (77.78) indicated that they need to acquire business knowledge, skills and training. A total of 68 (62.96%) women entrepreneurs indicated that they need support in the form of tools, equipment and machinery and 50 (46.3%) need support in the form of business advice and information.

A total of 36 (33.33%) women entrepreneurs indicated that they need marketing support, while 42 (38.89%) indicated that they need support in the form of suitable business premises. In addition, 20 (18.52%) indicated that they need technical support, while 12 (11.11%) need transport support. Networking with other business owners is needed by 50 (46.3%) women entrepreneurs. Furthermore, 18 women entrepreneurs need support in the form of infrastructure, while 26 (24.07%) need computer and Internet services support.

VII Conclusion

Women entrepreneurs in North India are motivated to start their own businesses by both push and pull factors. The most important motivators for starting a business are the need for independence, the need for flexible work schedules, the need for a challenge, dissatisfaction with salaried jobs, the need for social status, the influence of role models and insufficient family income. The results of this study confirm the findings of previous researchers (Ghosh & Cheruvalath, 2007; Heilman & Chen, 2003; Hunter-Smith, 2006; DeMartino & Barbato, 2002; Malon & Cohen, 2001; among others).

With regard to the obstacles facing women entrepreneurs, the findings are as expected. This means that women entrepreneurs in North India are not different. The least problems indicated by North India women entrepreneurs are the following: inhibiting laws and regulations; family pressure; lack of self-confidence; influence of the socio-cultural environment; and isolation from business networks.

The support and development needs indicated also reflect the obstacles. The practical recommendations offered will try to overcome these obstacles to ensure the success of small and medium-sized women-owned businesses in North India.

This study clearly indicates that women entrepreneurs in North India lack knowledge about organizations specifically established for women entrepreneurs. It is, furthermore, a reality that there are insufficient organizations for women development in the country. This is, however, a national problem.

In addition, women entrepreneurs have specific needs, such as training and skills development, financial support and access to tools, equipment and machinery.

VIII Recommendations

In most cases, banks or other financial institutions, when granting credit, have the requirement that the potential lender business should have a current account. Most of the women entrepreneurs who participated in this study only have a savings account and as a result they may be denied credit. It is thus recommended that women entrepreneurs in North India should hold current accounts to minimize inequality in granting credit by the banks.

It is recommended that more organizations should be established for the development of women entrepreneurs in North India. These organizations could support them with training and development, financing the business and other support for their entrepreneurial development. Training and development could help women entrepreneurs to obtain management skills, including skills in preparing business plans and financial statements, which could, furthermore, bridge the gap in the inequality in granting credit by the banks. In addition, awareness campaigns should be held so that women entrepreneurs could have knowledge about those organizations with the result that they could then utilize their support and facilities.

Government and non-governmental organizations in India should undertake a range of initiatives to develop women entrepreneurs. These should include the nature and dynamics of women entrepreneurship, the challenges of women in business and the utilization of technology for women in business. Financial support institutions and various councils that may be partners in offering training and mentoring programmes should, furthermore, be implemented.

Most women entrepreneurs have the pressure of childcare and experience work-home conflict. More crèches should be built to minimize this kind of obstacle.

IX Limitations and Suggestions for future research

There was limited time to conduct the study with the result that some women entrepreneurs were excluded from the study. Research on women entrepreneurship in North India is limited with few or no empirical studies in existence. As a result, literature from India and other countries was used.

Data on entrepreneurship is not gender specific and as a result the researcher divided data according to the names of owners using gender specific names. The study attempted to make a contribution to the body of knowledge on women entrepreneurship and can be regarded as a small step towards moving away from the current dependence on anecdotal evidence and case studies. This study, however, only assessed some of the aspects concerning women entrepreneurship in a relatively small sample and can be regarded as an exploratory study. More comprehensive research is still needed to gain more insight into the motivational factors for self-employment of women entrepreneurs, the obstacles facing them and their support and training needs to enhance our understanding of these issues.

The study was only conducted in North India and due to the convenience sampling technique and a very small sample this cannot be considered to be representative of all small and medium-sized women-owned businesses in the country. Care should therefore be exercised in the interpretation and utilisation of the results, and the findings of the study cannot be generalised. In other words, the typical women-owned business could be underrepresented in the sample.

The findings of this study were based only on descriptive, lower-level statistics. Further research is thus needed to gain more insight into the unique challenges facing women entrepreneurs and their training and development needs. It is recommended that more advanced statistical procedures, such as regression and factor analyses, should be utilized in the further development of the knowledge base to truly understand the dynamics of women entrepreneurship.

Based on the fact that published evidence of a quantitative nature of the unique challenges facing women entrepreneurs both nationally and internationally is still limited, the findings of this study present challenges for further research.