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Socio-economic Constraints Women Face When Running Micro-enterprises: A Comparative Case Study in Southern Malawi

Eastern Africa Agricultural Economics Society, 1979
Publication Date
  • Women
  • Husband
  • Micro-Enterprises
  • Credits
  • Constraints
  • Net Income
  • Malawi
  • Economics


Despite the economic support women are getting from the loan schemes for their micro enterprises, most female-owned micro enterprises do not survive the first year or the first six months compared to the male-owned micro enterprises. The objectives of the study were to identify factors that led to the collapse of most women owned micro-enterprises, and the constraints women faced in their businesses in southern Malawi. The study was conducted in Zomba district, where the banking groups such as Malawi Rural Finance Company (MRFC), National Association for Business Women (NABW), Promotion of Micro Enterprises for Rural Women (PMERW), Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives (MUSCCO) and Foundation International Community Assistant (FINCA) are actively involved in economic empowerment and promoting micro-enterprises among women entrepreneurs. Of the total 520 micro-enterprises supported by five rural banking groups, a total of 120 (60 single women and 60 married women) from all the banking groups were randomly sampled for the study. Married women businesses were performing better (net income rose by 106%) than the single women businesses (declined by 30%). Husbands were playing key roles in their wives businesses including joint ownership (76.7%). They helped their wives technically, business decision, encouragement and financial support as indicated by a strong positive relationship (correlation coefficient = 0.7) between the roles of the husbands and married women business performance. The main constraints that hindered women business were paying school fees for their children (48.6%), buy food items (35%), sickness of children (32.4%), selling similar products (18.9%), difficulties in paying back loans in weekly installments (23.3%) and unexpected rise in prices of goods (30.5%) in the study area. Keywords: Women, husband, micro-enterprises, credits, constraints, net income, Malawi Eastern African Journal of Rural Development

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