Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Woman Entrepreneurship in the Al-Batinah Region of Oman: An Identification of the Barriers

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Woman Entrepreneurship in the Al-Batinah Region of Oman: An Identification of the Barriers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Entrepreneurship has its origin from the French word entreprendre that means "to undertake" Burch (1986). The word reflects a willingness to do something, and usually the person who exhibits the willingness is known as an entrepreneur. There are many definitions for entrepreneurship but, simply, entrepreneurship is the process of identifying new opportunities and transferring them into marketable ideas, products and services. Lazear (2005: 649) defines entrepreneurship as "the process of assembling necessary factors of production consisting of human, physical, and information resources and doing so in an efficient manner" and entrepreneurs as those who "put people together in particular ways and combine them with physical capital and ideas to create a new product or to produce an existing." Entrepreneurship is considered as a factor of production, linked to innovation and risk taking, where entrepreneurial compensations are tied to uncertainty and profits (Montanye, 2006).

Several studies debate the definition of entrepreneurship (Howorth, Tempest, & Coupland, 2005), albeit entrepreneurship is all-pervasive as it occurs in every firm, enterprise, and sector (Collins, Smith & Hannon, 2005). Likewise, entrepreneurs are found in every country and in different enterprises therein. According to Montanye (2006), entrepreneurship enables talented individuals to realize rewards and enable them to live better than others. The drive to entrepreneurship is innate to human beings, as they compete in life for profit, similar to what they do in business (Montanye, 2006). At the micro level, while entrepreneurship benefits individuals or teams, at the macro level it creates and catalyzes employment and economic growth (World Bank, 2009). However, "To find a single appropriate and ubiquitous definition of entrepreneurship is a challenging problem for academic researchers and students of entrepreneurship" (Louw, van Eeden, Bosch, & Venter, 2003: 7).

In developing countries, small and medium enterprises are important for the economic growth and development. Entrepreneurship supports the process of economic development, fosters economic growth, job creation, and reduces rural unemployment and migration. Women, all over the world, have demonstrated success in handling small scale projects. In addition to meeting the needs of some large-scale industries and boosting innovation, the small-scale enterprises help the commercial and industrial community and also the development of women (OCCI, 2006).

Recently, the Sultanate of Oman has devised certain strategies to diversify the economic activities to sectors other than oil, on which the economy was heavily dependent earlier. The government encourages the private sector and focuses on the human resources with a special drive towards 'Omanisation', inducing Omani nationals to support and create enterprises (McElwee and Al Riyami, 2003; Al-Mansory and Nagee, 2003).

To boost entrepreneurship and the Small and Medium Enterprises, the government of Oman has taken many initiatives such as the Sanad Program, Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KON), and projects under the Oman Development Bank and the Ministry of Social Development. The private sector has also created similar programs such as Youth Projects Development Scheme, Intilaqa Program and Grofin Oman, to boost entrepreneurship. Furthermore, private sector banks such as HSBC Bank, Middle East Limited, Bank Muscat, Sohar Bank, and National Bank of Oman also support the small and medium enterprises. Small and medium sectors such as sewing, cosmetics, design and other sectors that do not require large amounts of capital have attracted largely Omani women (Nadwa, 2009). However, there are certain barriers that challenge women entrepreneurs.

Many studies have been conducted on women entrepreneurs since the beginning of the 1980s, but more research is needed to understand various aspects of the women entrepreneurship. …

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