Academic journal article Kadin/Woman 2000

Constraints on Female Entrepreneurship in Northern Cyprus

Academic journal article Kadin/Woman 2000

Constraints on Female Entrepreneurship in Northern Cyprus

Article excerpt


Cultural and social norms play an important port in the nascent entrepreneur's initial analysis of deciding on which business sector and business type they would like to create. North Cyprus has a unique patriarchal culture where gender segregation is still a part of modern life, yet outwardly the culture appear to be like any other European nation. The main purpose of the research study was to identify if female entrepreneurs in the region have reduced business sector choices within the patriarchal society. This is the first time that entrepreneurship research of this kind has been undertaken in Cyprus.

A mixed methodology was chosen to capture data, as it was essential to understand the variety of female entrepreneurship in North Cyprus, as well as understanding some of the female entrepreneurs" problems in depth. A questionnaire was administered to one thousand entrepreneurs, using the block sampling with the drop and collect methodology, which reveals the variety and magnitude of entrepreneurship, both male and female, in North Cyprus. The qualitative analysis included thirty in-depth interviews with both male and female entrepreneurs, to find out their specific problems in their difficult economic climate, and their previous experience of entrepreneurship, and some insight into the motivation for this entrepreneurship, for both men and women, and in their relations with each other.

The results of the study have revealed that female entrepreneur in North Cyprus have much in common with their Western counterparts, yet they are more restricted in terms of business sector choice. The pull factor is much more important far Turkish Cypriot female entrepreneurs, motivating them into a career of entrepreneurship. They do not have the financial constraints of Western female entrepreneurs, and are heavily supported, both financially and logistically, by their families.

The implication of this research is that female entrepreneurship in North Cyprus, while sharing some similarities with Western female entrepreneurship, also has their own unique perspective of entrepreneurship, which has arisen as a consequence of the severely patriarchal society the entrepreneurs belong to. This research will consequently make a significant contribution to the understanding of female entrepreneurship in strongly patriarchal communities where gender segregation is still practised, and other regions where the patriarchal system is socially very strong.

Key words: female entrepreneurship, business sector choice, gender issues, Northern Cyprus


Female entrepreneurship as a topic of research in entrepreneurship has developed over the past twenty years. Within this area, many researchers have singled out the problems of female entrepreneurs as being of some importance in understanding female entrepreneurship. The researches in this field have been mainly confined to the developed Western countries of the USA and Europe, but recently academic research has also included the problems of female entrepreneurs in Turkey (Hisrich & Ozturk, 1999; Ufuk & Ozgen, 2001; Ozen Kutanis & Bayraktaroglu, 2003) and in some Middle Eastern countries (Dana, 1999, Esim & Kuttab, 2001; McElwee & Al-Riyami, 2003).

The body of literature on female entrepreneurship, therefore, has attempted to define the distinct problems and day-to-day realities of business operations by these women business owners. In addition to the problems of their Western counterparts, one would assume that women living in countries with powerful patriarchal values have even more obstacles and difficulties to overcome. This is indeed true of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a sparsely populated piece of the island of Cyprus, where the Turkish Cypriots live isolated from the rest of the world due to economic embargoes, and political non-recognition. Although a secular state, in common with Turkey, most of the population is Muslim, this endows the culture and society with strong patriarchal values. …

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