Gender and entrepreneurship in Tanzania: a comparative analysis of Male-females start-up motivation, individual characteristics and perceptions of business success

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University of Dar es Salaam
The main objective of this study was to examine the effect of gender on entrepreneurial start-up motives, individual characteristics and perceptions of business success. To this end a conceptual framework was tested through a survey of 350 entrepreneurs (222 males and 128 females) in Tanzania. The survey was conducted in textile and clothing as well as woodworks and furniture making industries. It covered urban areas of Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Mbeya regions. Results reveal that at the aggregate level, start-up motives of entrepreneurs, their individual characteristics as well as the way they perceive their business success were greatly influenced by gender. While male entrepreneurs were motivated by the need for achievement and career frustration, females were motivated by the need for freedom to control their time and money, and need for flexibility to combine business and family. Moreover unlike their male counterparts, females were found to possess less entrepreneurial traits. In addition female entrepreneurs were found to measure their business success in terms of how well they can take care of their family and employees rather than economic criteria used by males. Moreover, the start-up motives of female entrepreneurs were significantly related to the way they measured success in business. These results suggest that women view their business as an extension of their homes; they integrate their business life with their family life. The magnitude of the gender differences revealed at the aggregate level; were found to change when the analysis was done at regional or industry level. Major implication drawn from this finding is that ethnicity may influence male-female socialisation processes and hence entrepreneurship. The results point to the need for policy to be more sensitive to gender and other elements of culture. Business support institutions should tailor women programs to their unique circumstances. Results also point to the need to inculcate relevant entrepreneurial traits to children both at home and in schools. The study also points to a number of new questions that need to be further pursued. Do graduates find the MSE sector unattractive? Why? Are women really getting the freedom they are looking for in business ownership? How do women entrepreneurs successfully mix business and family without doing harm to any? What is the influence of ethnicity or gender relations and hence entrepreneurship? Indeed the study has gradually evolved an appreciation of the need to take a much more holistic approach to the study of gender in entrepreneurship. Future study should examine gender within and across the two sexes rather than on a straight dichotomy of female and male. This would mean grounding theoretical frameworks much more on gender theory rather than. on the entrepreneurship theories as used in the current study.
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Women in business, Entrepreneurship, Tanzania
Nchimbi, M. I. (2002) Gender and entrepreneurship in Tanzania: a comparative analysis of Male-females start-up motivation, individual characteristics and perceptions of business success, Doctoral dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (