Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse the characteristics of women entrepreneurs operating in the informal sector in Mauritius and to investigate the impact of women entrepreneurship on their own livelihoods and that of their families. Design/methodology/approach – Using survey data on 158 women entrepreneurs operating in the informal sector, the authors analyse whether there has been an improvement in the standard of living of women entrepreneurs as a result of their informal entrepreneurial activities. Findings – Findings reveal that the informal sector has provided a self-employment outlet for unemployed and retrenched women in Mauritius. Even if for a majority, their earnings remain low, their informal activity has indeed helped to contribute to their livelihood and household earnings. Research limitations/implications – Research on informal sector businesses is fraught with limitations, given that these firms operate on the fringes of legality and data are thus a major issue. Hence interviewing owners of informal sector businesses to get relevant data is quite challenging. Practical implications – The results indicate that informal entrepreneurial activities contribute positively to women's livelihoods, hence policy should be aimed at encouraging women agency even if it is in the informal sector. Social implications – The study helps to shed light as to whether entrepreneurship even if it exists in the informal sector helps to improve the living of these women and their families. Originality/value – This study is innovative as it investigates the livelihood of a vulnerable section of the population, in this case, women entrepreneurs operating in the informal sector. The authors find that the informal sector provides women with higher income when they are married and are more formally educated.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 17, 2014
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