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Processes of Incubating African Female Entrepreneurs: Some Evidences from Senegal and Tanzania


  • Imani Silver Kyaruzi

    (University of Birmingham, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Graduate))

  • Chantal Ahoefa Hales

    (University of Birmingham, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences)


This paper seeks to examine the processes of incubating African female entrepreneurs. It is observed that despite the growing interest and large volume of literature on business incubation and their role in local economic growth, theories have been silent on explaining the role(s) of “female incubatees” within this process. The particular focus of this paper is on our current understanding of the nature of the complex processes of providing business support services to female entrepreneurs in Africa, an analysis of how incubation might address those challenges, and some tentative lessons drawn from our empirical research and entrepreneurs` own experiences. Therefore, this paper includes information and analysis on a number of business incubation initiatives, but its goal is to provide an understanding of what might work in the incubation industry and, in particular, why in specific circumstances female-owned businesses fail or succeed in the competitive business environment, which is often dominated by men. Its focus, therefore, is on incubation as means, not ends, as policies that enable businesses to overcome barriers during both pre and post-establishment. The local policies, enterprises and institutions form a significant part of this paper. Although it has been well documented that African female entrepreneurs are constrained by structural, cultural and institutional barriers (Spring and MacDade, 2005; Kyaruzi and Hales, 2006), the solutions to overcoming such barriers remain problematic. Also, their roles in the incubation processes are rarely mentioned in most policies on entrepreneurship in Africa. In an attempt to understand the mysterious concepts behind this one sided view, this paper draws its conclusions from studies conducted in Senegal and Tanzania to examine the role(s) of female entrepreneurs within the incubation process. Data was drawn from 160 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania firms and 40 female-owned businesses in Dakar, Senegal. The findings suggest that in most cases, the theories appear to treat the incubators and the business incubation processes as unproblematic institutions or policy tools for creating businesses and stimulating local economic growth through employment creation and taxes generated from new ventures. The conclusions suggest a need for more empirical studies on incubation processes and calls for new ways of incubating female entrepreneurs to realise their potential contributions to local economic growth. Since they have social and economic roles to play in contributing to local economic growth, our paper suggests that it is of significant importance to understand the processes and policies that are directed towards nurturing and supporting their ventures. This, and other elements that have been mentioned in this paper will enable policymakers and bilateral institutions to direct resources where they are mostly needed i.e. training, empowerment, capacity building and backup support.

Suggested Citation

  • Imani Silver Kyaruzi & Chantal Ahoefa Hales, 2009. "Processes of Incubating African Female Entrepreneurs: Some Evidences from Senegal and Tanzania," Journal of Women's Entrepreneurship and Education, Institute of Economic Sciences, issue 3-4, pages 42-68.
  • Handle: RePEc:ibg:jwejou:y:2009:i:3-4:p:42-68

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    JEL classification:

    • B54 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Feminist Economics
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania


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