An exploration of women entrepreneurship in Lesotho
Lebakeng, Mampoi Agnes
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Women entrepreneurs are a vital contribution to today's economy, yet there is still a dearth of research on women entrepreneurs. The main part of the study presents an analysis of 54 women entrepreneurs in three districts of Lesotho, namely Maseru, Mafeteng and Mohale's Hoek. The Ministry of Trade and Industry in Lesotho provided a database of entrepreneurs in Lesotho. The survey instrument used was a structured questionnaire which was administered at women entrepreneurs in Lesotho and a response rate of 72 % was achieved. The results of the analysis revealed the dynamics of women entrepreneurs in Lesotho. The main dimensions explored include: Women entrepreneurs are married women aged between 39 and 49 years, having at least one child and having either a junior certificate or COSC qualification. Most of the women enterprises are sole proprietors in the retail and agriculture sectors. They have been in business for more than five years and were founded by women owners using personal savings as the main source of start-up funding. Motivations into self -employment include the following: the need for independence, the need for flexible schedules, the need for a challenge, dissatisfaction with salaried jobs, lack of female role models and insufficient family income. The challenges facing women entrepreneurs in performing entrepreneurial activities include: lack of business management, lack of education and training, inter-role conflict, high risk averse, lack of female role models, pressure from childcare and the inequality to access credit. Most women entrepreneurs do not have knowledge about organisations established especially for women entrepreneurs. The participating women entrepreneurs identified the following development needs: financial assistance; training, skills development and knowledge; and the accessibility to tools, equipment and machinery. One of the main recommendations of this study, is the establishment of organisations that could encourage women entrepreneurship. Practical recommendations were also put forward to stimulate and foster women entrepreneurship in Lesotho.