‘Longing to grow my business’: The work-life interface of women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia

Konjit Hailu Gudeta*, Marloes van Engen, Pascale Peters, Kassa Woldesenbet, Brigitte Kroon, Atsede Tesfaye Hailemariam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

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This paper examines the work-life challenges women entrepreneurs face and the consequences of such challenges on the management and growth of women’s enterprises in Ethiopia. Using a grounded theory approach, in-depth interviews with 31 women entrepreneurs operating in various sectors in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia were analyzed. The key finding of the study showed that women’s work-life role and the expectation to take the primary (sometimes the sole) responsibility to care and domestic responsibilities hampers their ability to grow and expand their businesses. Some of the women interviewed were found postponing their business growth decisions as a result of their care responsibilities at home. The challenge of growing their business was found to be acute for those women with pre-school children and with less familial and/or societal support to help shoulder care and other work-family responsibilities. However, we also found examples of women’s continued motivation as a resilience factor in making their business a success. Furthermore, the notion of business success is perceived to be much richer than economic business success. The study provides theoretical and practical insights to the field of (women) entrepreneurship and the work-family literature by exploring the relationship between the work-family roles and business growth in a less researched Sub-Saharan African country. Theoretically, the study contributes in providing partial explanation for the consistently reported but less explained phenomena of why women-headed enterprises remain small in size and less performing than men-owned business. It also questions looking at women’s entrepreneurships solely from their economic contribution to a country. It shows that their businesses operate at the intersection of gender, sex, family, culture, religion, institutions, and that they could be supported to contribute to family-community wellbeing as well as economic development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave handbook of African entrepreneurship
EditorsO. Kolade, D. Rae, D. Obembe, Kassa Woldesenbet
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-75894-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-75893-6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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