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Mixed-gender ownership and financial performance of SMEs in South Africa: A multidisciplinary analysis

Beatrice Desiree Simo Kengne (Department of Economics and Econometrics, University of Johannesburg, Pretoria, South Africa)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 13 June 2016




The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether the presence of women among owner-stakeholders affects firms’ financial performance. Particularly, it extends the corporate governance literature by linking stakeholder theory and gender differences to explain why gender composition of ownership matters for firms’ performance. As the management of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) revolves around owner-managers and their individual characteristics that are likely to affect their achievements, the study further investigates the relationship between the gender composition of ownership and the firm survival.


Using survey data on SMEs for 2007 and 2010, this study uses a panel-level heteroskedasticity technique and a probit methodology to assess the effect women’s presence among owners may exert on SMEs performance and survival, respectively.


Results indicate that firms jointly owned by men and women appear to perform better than those owned by men although the presence of women among owners does not correlate with firm survival.

Research limitations/implications

While the findings of this study shed some light on the performance impact of gender composition of firm ownership, reports based on the presence of women among owners may not present the full picture. Whether the ownership is shared equally between different genders might provide further insides on the magnitude and/or robustness of such effect. Moreover, a small sample period (T = 2) was used to analyse a single industrial sector (manufacturing), and even though the Hausman test confirmed the use of random-effects specification, caution should be taken when generalizing the findings to other cases.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that the leadership in mixed-gender context propels a perspective of women as a valuable resource within SMEs, but relying on it to sustain the survival would be unwise.

Social implications

South Africa scores particularly high on positive actions towards women entrepreneurship, and this is compounded in the SMEs sector by managerial attitudes that could offer positive developments for women.


The positive and significant relationship between women’s presence among owners and SMEs financial performance in South Africa complements the almost exclusively reported negative impact of gender diversity on firm performance. Consequently, mixed-gender owners’ team can be used as a fulcrum to promote SMEs growth in South Africa.



Simo Kengne, B.D. (2016), "Mixed-gender ownership and financial performance of SMEs in South Africa: A multidisciplinary analysis", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 117-136.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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