Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life
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Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life

Edited by Deborah M. Figart and Tonia L. Warnecke

The Handbook illuminates complex facets of the economic and social provisioning process across the globe. The contributors – academics, policy analysts and practitioners from wide-ranging areas of expertise – discuss the methodological approaches to, and analytical tools for, conducting research on the gender dimension of economic life. They also provide analyses of major issues facing both developed and developing countries. Topics explored include civil society, discrimination, informal work, working time, central bank policy, health, education, food security, poverty, migration, environmental activism and the financial crisis.
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Chapter 22: Credit and self-employment

Nidhiya Menon and Yana van der Meulen Rodgers


Around the globe, small-scale entrepreneurship provides an important vehicle for income generation for women and men. Some people start microenterprises because they need more flexibility in their terms of employment, they have innovative ideas that warrant starting a new business, or they seek upward mobility in the labor market. Other people, often those at the lower end of the income scale, have little choice but to engage in self-employment when paid employment opportunities are scarce. A substantial proportion of the poor around the world rely on self-employment as a source of income as they navigate a host of constraints that include a lack of affordable loans from formal sources, restricted access to reliable savings accounts, few formal sources of insurance, insecure land rights, and insufficient public infrastructure such as piped water and electricity. More broadly, diversification of economic activities, especially in the rural sector, and the growth of nonfarm self-employment endeavors, serves not only as a means of survival for the very poor, but can also contribute to poverty reduction.

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