The world has been dominated by men for a very long time. The patriarchal culture has made people to believe that men are more likely to succeed in any aspect they are involved in compared to women. Similarly, our culture has relegated women to the periphery and made them subordinate to men. In this regard, it has been difficult for women to be involved in various economic activities other than farming. This is more pronounced in developing and emerging economies. In these countries women still are dependent on men and have limited opportunities of advancing themselves. However, the number of women that are joining entrepreneurship has been increasing lately (Roper, 2012). Consequently, this has made many people to get concerned and look into the factors that are contributing to the increase in the number of women entrepreneurs, especially in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Though entrepreneurship might have many definitions, for our study we will take entrepreneurs to be the same as business people both in small and huge businesses. An entrepreneur is defined as a person who redirects the resources of production from a place where their productivity is low to a region where their productivity can be optimized. In this regard, an entrepreneur is a person who organizes channels of production in an economy with the aim of making profits (Kariv, 2012). Therefore, female entrepreneurs are women who, using their knowledge and available resources, start their own business and thus create opportunities within an economy. Consequently, we will explore the factors that motivate women to start and run their own businesses be they small, medium or large scale (Hisrich, 2009).
The population of women is higher than that of men in the world. Therefore, for any meaningful economic development to take place, women need to be developed. Women need to be involved in economic activities to increase the rate of economic growth in any society. In this regard, female entrepreneurship is a way of women empowerment (Namaki, 2008). On the same note, female entrepreneurship gives women economic power and thus reduces cases of women mistreatment. Additionally, research has shown that enhancing income of women is reflected quickly in society through improved living standards of people unlike economic growth where wealth is concentrated on men.
On the same note, women entrepreneurship is very crucial in poverty reduction within our societies. This is because women form the highest percentage of poor people in any society. Moreover, it has been depicted by research that women are highly concerned with societal issues than men. As a result, empowering women is tantamount to empowering the society as a whole. It is equal to improving the lives that our children will live and men as well (Storey & Greene, 2010).
Women find a lot of obstacles when they want to start any business contrary to men. To begin with, due to the position that women have been given in the society, they find it very difficult to get the initial capital to start businesses. Similarly, women have never been able to own property in most countries, UAE being one of them. As a result, women do not have collateral that can enable them to secure loans from financial institutions. This has been a stumbling block for women entrepreneurs in most emerging economies (Drucker, 2012).
On the same note, women have to take care of their families whether they are into business or not. Unlike men who can delegate the duty of family affairs to their wives, women have nobody to assist them. Consequently, it sometimes becomes difficult to balance between business and family matters. This leads to failure in many businesses started by women. Moreover, women have to compete stiffly with men in business (Moghadam, 2007). Sometimes starting a business from scratch entails a lot of perseverance and consistence. These attributes are rare in women.
Cultural stereotypes are other challenges that women have to deal with in their endeavors to venture into entrepreneurship. Some cultures, especially in the UAE, still define roles for men and women. Accordingly, women are taken to be inferior and cannot be able to run a business. When women want to engage into business activities, society views them as domineering women who want to take over from men. In this regard, entrepreneur women will be discouraged on cultural grounds. Women are also not given the chance to get advanced education. Therefore, they lack the relevant experience to run businesses (Oxford Business Group, 2007).
It is a traditional expectation in the UAE society that men and women should not mingle in public. However, there are no private places set aside for women. To some women, this highly hinders their prospects of succeeding in entrepreneurship. On the same note, family members sometimes discourage women from venturing into entrepreneurship thus curtailing their chances of success. Moreover, some women have inherent fear that they may not be able to prove their worthy and they will instead fail (Omar & Gallant, n.d.). Consequently, they will rather not engage in entrepreneurship instead of embarrassing themselves.
Despite, the many factors that prevent women from engaging in economic activities, there are many factors that encourage them to get into entrepreneurship. To begin with, education is a very influential factor when it comes to motivating women to join entrepreneurship. Women who have higher education are most likely to be successful entrepreneurs due to the experience and expertise that they possess. Research has shown that majority of women who own and run businesses in UAE are having at least a diploma in various disciplines. On the same note, young women mostly below the age of 40 tend to dominate entrepreneurship (Nicholson, 2011). This is because young women are energetic and risk takers who do not fear failure. On top, these women are usually highly trained.
It is worthy noting that in UAE, like many other countries, women are given low status in society. They are taken as inferior people who cannot accomplish anything unless they are supported by men. As a result, women are not given opportunities in leadership positions due to the stereotype held by people. Women therefore join entrepreneurship to prove to their male counterparts that they can also manage organizations. They venture into entrepreneurship to prove to the society that not only men can be successful, but also women if given the chance (Brush, 2006).
Everybody likes the idea of earning more income. Consequently, people will be more willing to undertake any risk if the probability of earning more is higher. In UAE, business has proved to pay more returns to the resources invested. As a result, many women are motivated by the likelihood of earning more from entrepreneurship (Chu, 2004). This makes many women to forgo employment and instead venture into entrepreneurship.
It is paramount to note that family plays a very important role in UAE. As a result, family has a lot of influence in the way people act or even behave. In this regard, family support is a motivating factor for women entrepreneurs in the UAE. It has been depicted that women who have venture into entrepreneurship usually receive massive support from their families. On the other hand, the probability that women who venture into business without the support of their men or other family members will fail is high (Fielden & Davidson, 2010). Moreover, due to the position that women hold in the society, it is sometimes difficult for them to get the initial capital needed to start a business. Therefore, usually initial capital to start any business comes from contributions by family members. In addition, since women have to maintain their role of taking care of their children and other family issues, family support is vital. Women have to count on the support of their family members in assisting them with family chores so that they may have time to attend to their businesses. Consequently, family members play a crucial role in motivating women to venture into entrepreneurship (Hughes & Jennings, 2012).
There are some specific characteristics that have also been associated with women entrepreneurs in the UAE. Women entrepreneurs have been depicted to be self-motivated, strong willed and enthusiastic about whichever ideas they hold. On the same note, they are people who possess strong interpersonal skills and ability to negotiate effectively (Purcell, 2012). These skills are very crucial in any business venture because they increase the confidence of the entrepreneur and enable one to hold on to his or her dream.
The society is also skewed to the favor of men. As a result, men usually have an upper hand when it comes to employment opportunities compared to women. On the same note, UAE has high unemployment rates just like any other emerging economy in the globe. These two factors when put together work to the disadvantage of women. As a result, women have no any other choice than to start their own businesses for their financial independency. Similarly, most available job opportunities do not pay good money especially when it comes to women because of the status that society gives them (Ramady, 2012). This makes women to have the urge of venturing into their own businesses where their efforts will have a direct relationship with their income.
Chances of women being promoted to higher positions in their areas of work are minimal. It is a general believe that women do not have what it takes to be managers or to hold positions of leadership. In addition, conditions under which women work are not always similar to those of men. On the same note, women are given low social status due to the belief that they are only supposed to be house wives. All these lead to great dissatisfaction in women (Galindo, 2011). To get over the dissatisfaction with their social position, women are motivated to venture into entrepreneurship.
On the other hand, women in the UAE want to achieve excellence in their lives. It has been depicted that people who are after achieving excellence are more likely to take risks provided they have the hope that results will be realized. These people will be ready to involve themselves in activities where they have direct control over affairs (Halkias, 2011). Additionally, the need to achieve makes people willing of work in challenging environments, rebel against the norm and involve in activities that have immediate feedback on performance. Consequently, women in UAE are motivated by the urge to achieve excellence and thus venture into entrepreneurship. It is important to note that in entrepreneurship it is easier to notice improvement.
Similarly, people want to have their independence, especially the financial independency. Unless one has economic power, independency is only in the talk. Women do not really like the idea that they always have to ask for anything they want from their men. Autonomy is also one of the desires of women in any society (Abed, Helleyer & Vine, 2006). However, all this can be attained if one has financial stability. Entrepreneurship is way in which one can ensure steady income. Arguably, in UAE business is the easiest economic activity that women can engage in and ensure their financial stability.
Additionally, women have been hindered in their advancement endeavors by the unfavorable conditions that were put in place. The government never gave women the support they deserve to enhance themselves. However, the UAE government has lately worked on encouraging women participation in various economic activities. The National Strategy for the Advancement of Women has been in the forefront in encouraging women participation in the issues of the economy (Butler, 2003). On the same note, Ministry of Commerce and the Federation UAE Chambers have also been very supportive in enabling women to succeed in their business activities. These departments highly motivate women to venture into entrepreneurship. Women are also able to receive technical support which is very crucial in advancement of businesses (McAdam, 2013).
For women in the lower income brackets, the kind of life they lead is difficult. These women have to put up with low living standards. Additionally, the income levels of these households cannot sustain a decent living. Consequently, it becomes important for both men and women to contribute to the economic needs of the family (Metcalfe & mimouni, 2011). Given the difficulties that women go through before getting a job, they are forced to start their own business as a source of income.
Other factors that have been identified as being vital in women entrepreneurs’ motivation include the need to help the community (Sherif, 2012). Women are more concerned with societal issues than men and will therefore be concerned with social development. Additionally, some women are motivated by the urge to participate in enhancing economic growth of the economy (Tiwari, 2007). Research has also shown that there are women who venture into entrepreneurship because they have the hope that they can grow their businesses into well known establishments (Coughlin & Thomas, 2002). Others also want to have business experience so that they can be able to be viewed differently in the society. Though these factors are seen to be less influential, they still have an impact.
Women are the backbone of the society. Therefore, empowering women will develop a society at a faster rate. Unfortunately, women have been left behind historically and this has been detrimental to the society. However, women have been venturing into various economic activities. Entrepreneurship is one of the economic activities where women participation has been increasing. Though they face many challenges, women have several factors that motivate them to succeed in entrepreneurship. Nonetheless, society needs to encourage women so that they may also get involved in economic development.
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