Women Entrepreneurs in Bahir Dar City Confront Socio-Economic Hurdles: A Call for Policy Action

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Despite Contributing Nearly Half of Micro and Small Enterprises in Ethiopia, Women Face Systemic Challenges in Entrepreneurship

In Bahir Dar City, Ethiopia, a burgeoning community of women entrepreneurs is making significant strides in the micro and small enterprise (MSE) sector, owning nearly half of such businesses and generating vital employment opportunities. However, beneath this promising narrative lies a stark reality of systemic barriers hindering their entrepreneurial journey.

A recent study conducted by local researchers sheds light on the socio-economic factors impeding the performance of women in MSEs, uncovering a complex web of challenges ranging from cultural norms to inadequate policy support.

Ethiopia’s patriarchal culture, deeply ingrained in societal structures, poses a formidable obstacle to women seeking to establish and grow their businesses. Gender role stereotypes persist, limiting women’s access to resources, skills, and support necessary for entrepreneurial success. Despite their pivotal role in driving economic growth and poverty alleviation, women entrepreneurs receive little to no policy backing from the government, exacerbating their struggles.

The study highlights a glaring gap in policy support, with women-owned enterprises lacking crucial assistance in acquiring technical skills, accessing finance, securing business support, and navigating legal and administrative processes. These deficiencies not only stifle individual entrepreneurial potential but also hamper the overall contribution of women-led businesses to the national economy.

Moreover, the legal and administrative environment proves to be a significant determinant of MSE success. Cumbersome regulations and inadequate institutional frameworks impede business performance, hindering women entrepreneurs’ ability to thrive. The lack of favorable government support, coupled with administrative complexities, undermines the profitability and sustainability of women-led enterprises.

In response to these findings, experts emphasize the urgent need for targeted interventions to address the multifaceted challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. Policy reforms aimed at dismantling gender barriers, enhancing access to finance and resources, and streamlining regulatory processes are imperative to foster an enabling environment for female-led businesses.

The study underscores the crucial role of the socio-economic environment in nurturing entrepreneurial success, particularly for women in Bahir Dar City and beyond. By recognizing and addressing the systemic hurdles faced by women entrepreneurs, policymakers can unlock the full potential of this vital sector, driving inclusive economic growth and empowerment.

As Ethiopia strives to harness the transformative power of entrepreneurship for sustainable development, prioritizing the needs of women entrepreneurs is not just a matter of equity but a strategic imperative for fostering a thriving MSE ecosystem. Only through concerted efforts to address socio-economic disparities and promote gender-inclusive policies can the nation unlock the untapped potential of its women entrepreneurs and propel towards a more prosperous future.

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