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Lived experiences of successful women entrepreneurs (SMEs) in Iran: a feminist phenomenological study

Fatemeh Sadrnabavi (Department of Social Science, Islamic Azad University Mashhad Branch, Mashhad, Iran, and)
Hanieh Daneshvar (Department of Cultural Studies, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran)

Qualitative Research in Financial Markets

ISSN: 1755-4179

Article publication date: 29 December 2022

Issue publication date: 2 November 2023




This study aims to investigate the entrepreneurial actions of successful Iranian women entrepreneurs. It is an attempt to find the roots, motivations, challenges and strategies of successful actions of these women, despite the unequal and masculine structure of the society.


This research was conducted through the theoretical framework of poststructuralist feminism and the qualitative method. By purposive sampling, the researchers selected 10 women entrepreneurs living in Khorasan Razavi province for in-depth interviews. These women have created many jobs based on local potential and become recognized as top entrepreneurs. The narratives of these women were analyzed phenomenologically.


The actions of these women are fertilized under the influence of family background and early socialization and in the combination of internal motivations and external stimuli. These women resist social barriers such as widespread patriarchy, gender division of labor in society and complex bureaucratic processes through the “strategic cycle” resulting from the interaction of “reliance on intertwined social networks,” “social entrepreneurship,” “gradual formation of social capital” and “reliance on local potentials.”

Social implications

The strategies to overcome gender inequalities at the micro (family) and macro (society) levels introduced in this research can inspire women entrepreneurs who seek success in their businesses.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first qualitative research that, by studying the actions of successful Iranian women entrepreneurs, describes how they overcome structural inequalities and their success strategies.



Sadrnabavi, F. and Daneshvar, H. (2023), "Lived experiences of successful women entrepreneurs (SMEs) in Iran: a feminist phenomenological study", Qualitative Research in Financial Markets, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 712-731.



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