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Journal cover: International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Online from: 2009

Subject Area: Enterprise and Innovation

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Factors motivating women's informal micro-entrepreneurship: Experiences from Penang, Malaysia

Document Information:
Title:Factors motivating women's informal micro-entrepreneurship: Experiences from Penang, Malaysia
Author(s):Anja K. Franck, (Department of Human and Economic Geography, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Citation:Anja K. Franck, (2012) "Factors motivating women's informal micro-entrepreneurship: Experiences from Penang, Malaysia", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 4 Iss: 1, pp.65 - 78
Keywords:Entrepreneurialism, Informal economy, Malaysia, Micro businesses, Microeconomics, Women, Women's entrepreneurship
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/17566261211202981 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the factors which motivate women's informal micro-entrepreneurship in Malaysia.

Design/methodology/approach – The qualitative analysis employed in this paper is based upon empirical findings from field work conducted in the state of Penang on the north-western coast of Peninsular Malaysia. In total, 39 hawkers (petty traders) were interviewed using an interview guide which contained open-ended questions regarding work-life history, labor market choices and conditions of work. The paper presents two selected case stories, as well as the general findings across the whole sample.

Findings – In contrast to the view that women's informal micro-entrepreneurship is motivated only by “involuntary exclusion from the labor market” or “poverty”, this paper has found that women's micro-entrepreneurship can be motivated by a wide range of factors including: to earn an income; interest in doing business; increased flexibility and autonomy; possibility to combine with family obligations; and re-negotiating spatial practices. Conclusive with previous studies it also argues that necessity and choice may be “co-present” in the motives to enter into entrepreneurship.

Research limitations/implications – The limited sample of this study has implications for the generalizability of results. Further studies into the women's micro-entrepreneurial activities in Malaysia are therefore encouraged.

Social implications – Women's micro-entrepreneurship is increasingly being promoted as a way to create growth and development (particularly through micro-credit schemes). Increasing knowledge around motivational factors, performance and conditions of work for women informal micro-entrepreneurs is therefore important when trying to establish appropriate policies.

Originality/value – There are very few studies in the Malaysian context which focus upon women's informal micro-entrepreneurship in general and hawking in particular. This study therefore presents new knowledge around women's informal micro-entrepreneurship in Malaysia.

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