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The impact of female entrepreneurship on economic growth in Kenya

Rachel Lock (Department of Management, Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK)
Helen Lawton Smith (Department of Management, Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 14 March 2016




This study aims to provide a better understanding of the barriers and constraints that are faced by women entrepreneurs in starting and running a business in Kenya.


The study draws on primary research conducted through face-to-face interviews with female entrepreneurs in Kenya in a wide range of sectors, each having their own micro enterprise. It draws on the framework of Bates et al. (2007) and Baughn et al. (2006) to look at the entrepreneurship landscape in Kenya and the barriers and constraints faced by women entrepreneurs, as well as the support and opportunities available.


It was found that female entrepreneurs in Kenya face far fewer barriers to starting micro-enterprises now than ever before. It is proving to be a widely successful model, which they use to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. There remain, however, a number of barriers to growth within the micro-enterprise sector. On the basis of these, the paper argues that for female entrepreneurship to have a greater impact on economic growth within Kenya, the country needs to introduce more effective policies, regulation of the informal sector and further support to women entrepreneurs. For example, support could take the form of business training, mentoring and financial support.


The paper presents original research on the growing phenomenon of female entrepreneurship in Kenya as a means of alleviating poverty. It considers how this trend relates to the growing availability of microfinance.



Lock, R. and Lawton Smith, H. (2016), "The impact of female entrepreneurship on economic growth in Kenya", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 90-96.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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