Female subsistence entrepreneurship: an exploration of institutional influences in rural Western Kenya
Tabitha Magese Sindani
(University of Roehampton)
Paper short abstract:
Through a qualitative research approach by engaging semi-structured in-depth interviews, this study investigates how the formal (economic and political) and informal (cultural) institutions in rural contexts within which women are embedded, influence their entrepreneurial participation in Western Kenya.
Paper long abstract:
This research investigates how formal and informal institutional factors influence rural female entrepreneurs in Western Kenya. Research affirms that entrepreneurship is institutionally embedded. These institutions are formal and informal, and they define the "rules of the game" that sets boundaries for entrepreneurship. Precisely, the formal institutions are political and economic-related rules and regulations which controls the access to opportunity fields for entrepreneurship. While informal institutions contain uncodified societal norms and attitudes that determine the collective and individual perception of entrepreneurship. Despite this, previous studies on women's entrepreneurship have adopted an individualist approach. These have largely focused on the influence of women's psychological and individual-related factors on their own entrepreneurial activity but underestimate the influence of the underlying institutional factors. Few studies have investigated the impact of formal and informal institutions on women's entrepreneurship, but the majority of those that do are conducted in western contexts. Yet, these studies do not present the institutional context-specific peculiarities operative in non-western contexts. As such, there is paucity of research from non-western contexts particularly developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It is on this account that this study seek to investigate how formal and informal institutions influence rural female entrepreneurs in Vihiga County, Western Kenya. Previous studies in Kenya have concentrated on urban settings leaving the rural settings under-researched. This is despite the fact that women constitute 50.3% of Kenya's national population and 73.94% of women reside in the rural peripheries where they continue to shoulder the burden of the country's poverty.