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Published: 02 November 2016

Female entrepreneurs in hospitality and tourism are vectors for social change

School of Hospitality and Tourism Management lecturer Albert Kimbu explores the impact of female social entrepreneurship on community development in sub-Saharan Africa.

What are the motivations for starting your own business in hospitality and tourism? To make a profit? Yes. To gain financial independence and provide for your family? That, too. But it turns out there are more philanthropical, society-driven reasons for starting your own venture – to create jobs and help others out of poverty, as well as providing a good service for tourists. And, according to SHTM lecturer Albert Kimbu and Michael Zisuh Ngoasong of The Open University in their recent paper ‘Women as vectors of social entrepreneurship’, it turns out that female business owners in the hospitality and tourism sector are doing just that – in Cameroon which is used as an example.

In response to recent claims that social entrepreneurship (SE) acts as a catalyst for innovation, value creation and social change, especially in niche markets like hospitality and tourism,   Kimbu & Ngoasong set out to explore the nature, motivations and extent to which female entrepreneurs in H&T in Cameroon use their businesses to engage in SE, leading to economic and community development.

Kimbu & Ngoasong conducted survey questionnaires, focus groups and observations of female small tourism firm (STF) owners in Cameroon, an emerging but under researched destination where ethnic and traditional practices can often prevent women from creating businesses.

Their study shows that not only are women overcoming these barriers to create successful STFs that provide them with a stable income and financial independence, they are also using their businesses as platforms for creating jobs and opportunities that help others out of poverty, while simultaneously serving the needs of tourism communities.

Kimbu & Ngoasong argue that their research gives a voice to women, an otherwise marginalised group in many sub-Saharan African countries such as Cameroon, where the local context still favours men when it comes to creating a business. Recognizing this societal contribution of women is an important starting point to finding ways of supporting women to overcome existing barriers to business creation and thereby increasing the number of women entrepreneurs in these countries.

Read the full paper: doi:10.1016/j.annals.2016.06.002

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