Evaluating Women Entrepreneurs in the Informal Sector: Some Evidence from India

Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp.351-369 (2011)

19 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2013

See all articles by Colin Williams

Colin Williams

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Anjula Gurtoo

Indian Institute of Science

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Studies on women entrepreneurs in the informal economy no longer view them merely as a residue from some pre-modern mode of production that is disappearing. Instead, they are either read through a structuralist lens as marginalised populations engaged in low quality work conducted under poor conditions for low pay out of necessity in the absence of alternative means of livelihood, or through a neo-liberal lens as engaged in relatively higher quality endeavour more as a rational choice. The aim of this paper is to evaluate critically these contrasting explanations. To do this, the results of face-to-face interviews with 323 women entrepreneurs operating in the Indian informal economy are analysed. The finding is that although the structuralist representation is largely appropriate for women engaged in informal waged work, it is not so valid for women informal entrepreneurs working on a self-employed basis where incomes are higher, they receive more credit from formal institutions, union membership is higher and such work is more likely to be a rational choice. The outcome is a call to recognise the diversity of women’s experiences in the informal sector and that not all informal entrepreneurship by women in developing nations is low-paid necessity-oriented endeavour carried out as a last resort.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, India, informal economy, women, self employment, informal sector

JEL Classification: O17, H26, H31, R20, K42

Suggested Citation

Williams, Colin and Gurtoo, Anjula, Evaluating Women Entrepreneurs in the Informal Sector: Some Evidence from India (2011). Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp.351-369 (2011), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2290543 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2290543

Colin Williams (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

15 Conduit Road
Sheffield, S10 1FL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/management/staff/williams/index

Anjula Gurtoo

Indian Institute of Science ( email )

Bangalore, IN Karnataka 560012
India

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