What is it about?

Studies on women entrepreneurs in the informal economy no longer view them merely as a residue from some pre-modern mode of production that is disappearing. Instead, they are either read through a structuralist lens as marginalized populations engaged in low quality work conducted under poor conditions for low pay out of necessity in the absence of alternative means of livelihood, or through a neo-liberal lens as engaged in relatively higher quality endeavours more as a rational choice. The aim of this paper is to evaluate critically these contrasting explanations.

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Why is it important?

To do this, the results of face-to-face interviews with 323 women entrepreneurs operating in the Indian informal economy are analyzed. The finding is that although the structuralist representation is largely appropriate for women engaged in informal waged work, it is not as valid for women informal entrepreneurs working on a selfemployed basis where incomes are higher, they receive more credit from informal institutions, union membership is higher, and such work is more likely to be a rational choice. The outcome is a call to the divrecognizeersity of women’s experiences in the informal sector and that not all informal entrepreneurship by women in developing nations is a low-paid, necessity-oriented endeavour carried out as a last resort.


Displays not all women entrepreneurs in this developing country are necessity-driven

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: EVALUATING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS IN THE INFORMAL SECTOR: SOME EVIDENCE FROM INDIA, Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, September 2011, World Scientific Pub Co Pte Lt, DOI: 10.1142/s1084946711001914.
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