Evaluating Women Entrepreneurs In The Informal Sector: Some Evidence From India
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. 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 self-employed 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 recognize the diversity 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.
Volume (Year): 16 (2011)
Issue (Month): 03 ()
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