Going solo: The rise of self-employment amongst Batswana women

23 Aug 2018

BIDPA has called for entrepreneurial skills development programs to assist women to improve the performance of their businesses.

A recent study by the research organ Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) has shown that males are less likely to enter into self employment than females, which may mean that women only enter into self employment for survival, as they face limited paid employment opportunities.

Self employment is attracting a lot of interest globally as it is seen as a key driver for economic development for both developed and developing countries. The main objective of the study was therefore aimed at examining factors that influence the decisions of individuals to engage in self employment, rather than paid employment.

BIDPA working paper 46 titled, ‘Determinants of self employment in Botswana’ by Tshepiso Gaetsewe also show that, “widowed individuals have higher chance of entering into self employment as compared to someone that has never been married. This may be because widows are forced into self employment as a means of survival. Therefore, entrepreneurship programs should place emphasis on upliftment of widows to ensure they are not excluded.”

Citizenship also has an effect on self employment decisions. Non-citizens are more likely to enter into self employment than citizens. A plausible explanation for this might be that paid employment opportunities are less available to non citizens than citizens, compelling non citizens to enter self employment for survival. Moreover, non-citizens may enter into the country to start businesses which would increase the likelihood of self employment. Government therefore has been urged to continue to encourage citizens to engage in self employment to address the high unemployment in the country. “More effort needs to be put on skills development, particularly through on the job training to impart practical business skills,” suggests the study.

The study further reveal that the older individual becomes the more likely he/she enters into self employment. This may be motivated by accumulated human, physical and financial capital over time, which facilitates entry into business. This is despite the fact that grants, training and other benefits are mainly targeted at the youth in Botswana. Gaseitsewe therefore suggests, government should also target older potential entrepreneurs with accumulated experience to encourage them to go into self employment and to further promote employment creation, economic diversification and poverty reduction.

Study also show that the higher the education level the less likely the person is to enter into self employment. This suggests that education enhances entry into paid employment, which is generally preferred to self employment, and that individuals with less education enter into self employment out of necessity. Government needs to devote more resources on those individuals with lower educational attainment do as to enhance their entrepreneurial skills to further increase their success in business.

 

Firm location is also important in making self employment decisions. Results show that individuals residing in rural areas are more likely to enter into self employment than those in cities/towns or urban villages. This is because of limited paid employment opportunities in rural areas than in urban areas and cities. Therefore, rural dwellers tend to enter self employment out of necessity, rather than to exploit opportunities. Therefore, government has to target rural dwellers to enhance their r business skills and should provide the necessary facilities and infrastructure in rural areas, to further promote self employment, job creation, poverty reduction, and economic growth.

Asked to comment on the study by The Telegraph, Businesswoman, Loatile Seboni concurs with the researcher that it is also that married individuals go into self employment because marriage provides social capital. “In other words it gives some form of stability and should anything go wrong or business is slow to take off which is always the case you have a support system or fall back plan. However, the need for entrepreneurial skills is also key and an imperative for one to run their business efficiently and effectively.”  

Seboni suggested that, “policy must be deliberate to ensure that vulnerable groups needs are taken care especially given the fact studies are showing women in particular enter self employment more than men.”

Former Women in Business Association, Tumi Mbaakanyi once indicated that, it is a fact that even though the majority of business owners in Botswana are women, this group is still not counted amongst the wealthy elite.

She hoped that government would come up with targeted policies to close the gap.

On the positive, government in the recent years came up with women empowerment schemes such as; introduction of price preference directive for 100 percent women-owned businesses, women’s fund through the Department of Gender Affairs, Mabogo dinku through CEDA amongst other initiatives.