Profiling Caribbea...

Profiling Caribbean Women Entrepreneurs

Business Environment, Sectoral Constraints and Programming Lessons

This report seeks to redress the current paucity of information on growth-oriented women entre­preneurs in the Caribbean region by drawing on various data sources to estimate their numbers and sectoral focus. At the same time, it develops an understanding of the main issues facing women in their businesses and their future growth potential.

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Profiling Caribbean Women Entrepreneurs

Three main concepts are used throughout the report: entrepreneurship, innovation, and growth-orientation. Entrepreneurship is used in its widest sense in relation to the support environment and the process of starting and running businesses. Innovation is considered the launching of new or improved products, services, processes, or business models to drive differentiation and/or efficiency for enhanced competitiveness. Growth orientation relates to individual drive, ambition, and potential to grow a business, while growth potential relates to the potential of the sector to grow.

Information on entrepreneurial activities is available at a global level. For example, the World Bank’s Doing Business and Enterprise Surveys and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). However, information for the Caribbean region in general, and gender specifically, is lacking. The World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys cover most coun­tries in the Caribbean. Information on enterprises with females in ownership1 is also available.

Again, this data has not been used enough to unearth issues facing female entrepreneurs in the region. The Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC) required this information to target the region’s growth-oriented and innovative women entrepreneurs in technology-oriented and technology-enabled businesses. Therefore, WINC sought answers to the following questions:

Market size: What is the representation of self-employed women in the labor market? Specifically, how many high-potential growth-oriented women entrepreneurs exist across the Caribbean?

Profile: What is the profile of women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean? For example, what sectors are they in? Are they innovative, technology-enabled or technology-oriented? Do they pursue high-growth ventures versus subsis­tence ventures? If so, in what proportions?

Barriers to doing business for women entrepreneurs: What, if any, are the significant barriers that prevent or discourage women from starting, operating, and growing their businesses in the Caribbean?

Adequacy of business support: Are there adequate business-support servic­es, including incubation support, for growth-oriented and potential growth-oriented women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean? What services are already available to them, and do these satisfy their needs? If not, why not, and what are the gaps? Do the needs of Caribbean women entrepreneurs differ from those of men? If so, how? And what does this indicate about the women entrepreneurs themselves? What are women entrepreneur needs in relation to access to finance? What are their needs in relation to technical and vocational training?

The WINC assessment adopted a mixed research methodology to address these issues for its own programs and to contribute to the knowledge in the region. It used previously published research, secondary data on the labor market, general busi­ness environment, and enterprise-level data from the World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys; and primary data from WINC’s community of women entrepreneurs and key stakeholders.

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