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Learning experiences of women entrepreneurs amidst COVID-19

Gul Afshan (Department of Business Administration, Sukkur IBA University, Sukkur, Pakistan)
Subhan Shahid (Deparment of Management, Technology and Strategy Grenoble Ecole de Management, Grenoble, France)
Muhammad Nawaz Tunio (Doctoral track Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Development, Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt Faculty of Economy, Klagenfurt, Austria, Department of Business Administration, Greenwich University, Karachi, Pakistan and Alpen-Adria-University, Klagenfurt, Austria)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 10 June 2021

Issue publication date: 17 August 2021




COVID-19 pandemic triggered unexpected crises, which were beyond the imaginations of a common man. It changed the order of routine life and the business world. In this challenging condition, the survival of the small business was at high risk. Following experiential learning theory, the purpose of this paper is to explore women's entrepreneurial learning obtained during the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges experienced by them and strategies undertaken to transform businesses.


To explore Pakistani women entrepreneurs' lived experiences and learning during the COVID-19, researchers used a qualitative interview design. The interviewees reported their experiences about the effects of COVID-19 on their business and entrepreneurial learning from such a crisis.


The findings of the study indicate new fractions of knowledge from the novel learning of the female entrepreneurs throughout the experience of the COVID-19. The transformation from manual business dealings and financial transactions to virtual dealing and the online transaction was the addition of novel learning. Furthermore, the analysis provides insights into the challenges experienced by women entrepreneurs, strategies undertaken and lessons learned from COVID-19. The life lessons learned showed the importance of technical skills and their business operations during the crisis.

Research limitations/implications

This study is very specific in its context and limitations of this study offers new avenue for research to extend study in different perspectives. First, interviews were conducted from women entrepreneurs running businesses in sub-urban cities of Pakistan, where study can be extended to include both male and female in a comparative study which can expose new dimensions. Second, this study is conducted in the sub-urban areas of the Sindh province of Pakistan, which can be extended to other areas of the country because Pakistan is multicultural and multilingual, which offer different gender specific factors for entrepreneurial activities in general terms but in case of the Covid-19 situation, there exists great variations and social stratifications. Third, this study can be extended to other developing or developed countries or comparative study can provide a new flavor of knowledge.

Practical implications

The study's finding offers few implications for the entrepreneurs, societies and government at large. Although the pandemic crisis has had devastating effects on health and lifestyle activities, there is always a ray of coming to innovative approaches to fulfill the entrepreneurial desires and serve the community. Thus, entrepreneurs are encouraged to contribute to the economy as a part of society through their sustainable products and services for the greater good. There is also a need for some social policies to find entrepreneurial ways to deal with the COVID-19 crisis that integrates value co-creation for society (Ratten, 2020b). Government and society should also intervene and play their role to encourage women entrepreneurs to feel a sense of empowerment, contribute to family income, alleviate poverty, create jobs and help in economic growth.


This study's unique contribution and origin are to explore the COVID-19-related entrepreneurial learning experiences of women entrepreneurs in a developing country (Pakistan). Moreover, this study theoretically contributes to the development of experiential learning theory by expanding its insights during COVID-19.



Authors are very thankful to the Editor, Professor Lene Foss for her nice coordination and mentorship for improving the manuscript. They also thank honorable anonymous reviewers for sparing their time to provide feedback and suggestions.


Afshan, G., Shahid, S. and Tunio, M.N. (2021), "Learning experiences of women entrepreneurs amidst COVID-19", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 162-186.



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