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Women Entrepreneurs Across Racial Lines

Issues of Human Capital, Financial Capital and Network Structures

Andrea E. Smith-Hunter

Women entrepreneurs command an increasingly large presence at the international and national levels. A significant part of this impact is due to growing numbers of minority women becoming entrepreneurs. This volume provides some of the most comprehensive data to date on the topic of women entrepreneurs across racial lines. It offers a systematic and conceptual framework for understanding issues of network structures and human and financial capital, analyzed through a comparative analysis of minority and white women entrepreneurs.
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Chapter 9: The State of Women Entrepreneurs in the Global Marketplace

Andrea E. Smith-Hunter


Introduction Entrepreneurship as a legitimate occupational source of income for women can be found worldwide. In some regions, it is institutionalized and represents a viable source of employment for women and an income bearing source for their families. While women working as self-employed individuals date back to much earlier centuries (Oppedisano, 2000; Boyd, 1996), their formalization as business owners or as a sector requiring their place and contribution to a country’s gross national or domestic product has taken prominence primarily in the last two to three decades, and for some countries only in the last five years. Accounting for and documenting exact worldwide figures on women in the entrepreneurial sector remain illusive, but there is no doubt that women’s place as a part of the entrepreneurial field is becoming more assured. This phenomenon is seen as a necessary development and a vital component of a country’s advancement. Vital, since women represent approximately 50% of most countries’ population and thus 50% of the potential workforce. Vital still, since the latter portion of the workforce is often marginalized, existing on the peripheral boundaries of a country’s mainstream labor market – facing obstacles and being denied their rightful place as contributing income earners in their society. Some have suggested that this documentation should mainly occur at the micro level (Shane et al., 1991), others have emphasized the need to conduct studies that address the informal versus the formal economic sector (Weiling et al., 2001), while others have advocated a theoretical and empirical understanding of...

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