Marginalisation and Gender: Tracking the Experiences of Caribbean Women Entrepreneurs (2015 to 2018)

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Smith, Katrine;
Thomas, Luwayne
Nov 2022
Extant research has indicated that women are under-represented in business ownership in the Caribbean, and when they do establish businesses, that they underperform relative to men in business ownership. Drawing on a tracer survey (2015 to 2018) and in-depth interviews with women entrepreneurs from across the Caribbean, the research sought to identify the constraints to enterprise development and their underlying causes. Utilising a conceptual framework of enterprise marginalisation, which itself draws on a theory of social exclusion, the results indicate that, while growth influences the ordering and prevalence of certain constraints to enterprise development, that marginalisation is still experienced by women entrepreneurs. While the absence of some support mechanisms for enterprise development contribute to the difficulties faced by these women entrepreneurs, the societal attitudes as to what is considered accepted in relation to sectors of operation and the perceptions of gatekeepers in financial institutions are the two main underlying constraints to the development of women-owned businesses amongst the sample. The research provides some recommendations to specifically address financial inclusion and the availability of business support services and networks. However, the issue of gender discrimination remains a longer-term societal issue to address.