Entrepreneurship has many definitions and forms, but generally is considered to be a person who earns a living by taking a risk to meet a market or societal need. Women have made their livelihoods in this manner for millennia. Women Win applies a broad approach to entrepreneurship, including self-employment in recognition of the many skills and risks involved in starting any business. The entrepreneur’s business could be based on an innovative idea—a new or creative way to solve a familiar need or provide a familiar product or service. Whether working alone or with a group, each individual assumes some ownership of risk. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but for many young women, entrepreneurship is an attractive, viable way to create a livelihood.
EMpower’s “It’s Her Business” handbook cites the following advantages of entrepreneurship for young women and for communities:
Advantages for young women entrepreneurs:
- Offers a safer alternative to some income-generation options typically available to young, at-risk women (drug trafficking, sex for money, etc.).
- Offers a more flexible and practical work schedule than a formal job. This is especially helpful for young women with children and/or other domestic responsibilities, or women who are still studying.
- Teaches skills that young women can apply to many situations in their lives.
- Offers an opportunity for young women to be outside their homes, strengthen their social networks, and build skills in leadership, problem solving, decision-making, and teamwork.
- Teaches women important skills in literacy and basic math, which are particularly useful for those who have had limited formal education.
Benefits for communities who encourage young women entrepreneurs:
- Women entrepreneurs serve as positive role models for girls in their communities.
- Women typically invest a higher percentage of their earnings back into their families and communities than men do.
- Successful women-led businesses can begin to change community-wide perceptions of women’s roles and capacities—particularly if women are engaged in non-traditional industries or activities.
- Small businesses can strengthen local economies by providing needed goods and services that are otherwise unavailable
- Small local businesses create jobs in communities in which the majority of young people are forced to migrate in search of work.”
Many resources exist for business planning. Women Win recommend the The EMpower: It’s Her Business, Part 3 which specifically addresses how to help young women entrepreneurs choose, market and launch their business. A complementary reference is the Prince’s Trust Business Planning Guide. Both publications may be useful in developing an entrepreneurship programme.