Exploring the strategies and challenges to empower female entrepreneurs via business support and ICT in the UK: A resource-based theory perspective
Significant efforts are being made in both developed and developing countries to cultivate female entrepreneurship in view of its impact on a community's economic and social development. Despite increasing numbers of women creating businesses around the world, studies suggest that they are only half as likely to start a business compared to men in the UK. Women entrepreneurs often lack support and guidance as well as facing individual, social and cultural barriers to starting and running a business. They also have less chance than most men to raise finance and accumulate the confidence and skills essential to start and run a successful business.
The aim of this ethnographic study was to develop a practical framework for a resource-based approach to business support which integrates new and innovative directions for the development and progress of female entrepreneurs in the UK. The study was guided by six objectives, and qualitative data were collected from thirty semi-structured interviews with female entrepreneurs across the UK. Additionally, observations and individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with multiple informants in four business support organisations.
Data were analysed and interpreted using content analysis. The findings showed that the needs of every female entrepreneur are different and they require tailored, specialist, one-on-one support based on their needs and the stage of their businesses. Their main needs appear to be access to finance, network support and access to information. Furthermore, female entrepreneurs do not seem to access business support, particularly when compared with men for various reasons such as lack of information about support providers and cost. The extant empirical research examining female entrepreneurs' business support needs is limited and focuses mainly on female start-ups. The empirical evidence also showed that business support helps female entrepreneurs gain access to resources and ultimately, boosts their confidence.
- School of Management