Gender Entrepreneurship and Social Policy Institute GESPi logo

Gender, Entrepreneurship and Social Policy Institute

The Gender, Entrepreneurship and Social Policy Institute (GESPi) will consolidate existing, and drive new, interdisciplinary research in gender, equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), entrepreneurship and social policy. It aims to influence policy and social change for inclusive development in the tourism, hospitality and service-related sectors by creating networks and pathways for knowledge exchange between stakeholders. Founded in September 2019, GESPi is a joint initiative between researchers at the University of Surrey and the Open University.

Our vision

Our vision is a future where a large body (the hive) of relevant and interdisciplinary research on gender and entrepreneurship is available to all stakeholders, and where there is fluid transfer of knowledge and tools between networks and a more inclusive environment for entrepreneurs. Though entrepreneurship leads to equality and increasing gender awareness can improve social policy, these three fields have not been studied together. GESPi will define and establish a distinctive new field integrating gender, entrepreneurship and social policy. The longer-term goal is to build, nationally and internationally, research on the critical linkages between gender, entrepreneurship and social policy comparing different specialist industries and localities, in developing countries and beyond.

Our aims

  • To partner with universities, funders, industry and policy makers to pursue research, consultancy and capacity-building projects.
  • To create a forum for entrepreneurs, investors (for example gender lens investors, private equity and angel investors, family offices), NGOs and industry researchers to foster creative thinking about how gender equality/equity in the entrepreneurial sector can enhance inclusive development in African countries and beyond.
  • To disseminate findings through conference presentations, professional publications and reports, workshops, university courses and new media.
  • To publish peer-reviewed journal articles, books, occasional papers, creative writing pieces and case studies.

Our research areas

  • Women’s entrepreneurship in its distinctive forms, including family-based ventures, female succession in family businesses.
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and multinational corporations and organisations for sustainable intra/entrepreneurship.                
  • Gender-lens investments in new and established businesses promoting development-led entrepreneurship.
  • Gender and environmental entrepreneurship, including green innovations, start-up ventures and growth processes of environmentally-friendly women-owned ventures.
  • Public policies and cross-sector collaborations to facilitate gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the entrepreneurial sector, for example through support for access childcare, public health, education and food security.
  • Entrepreneurship education, including a focus on encouraging women and young people in engineering entrepreneurship education, and teaching innovations and pedagogical interventions that help empower young (wo)men, girls and boys to engage with entrepreneurship and develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Sector and area studies, with a focus on (wo)men, youths (and other marginalised groups) and entrepreneurship in hospitality, tourism, leisure, agriculture and healthcare among others.

Research projects

Start date: August 2022

End date: March 2023

Start date: March 2022

End date: December 2022

Start date: August 2021

End date: July 2022

Start date: March 2021

End date: September 2021

Start date: September 2020

End date: June 2021

Start date: May 2020

End date: September 2020

Start date: January 2019

End date: September 2019

Start date: March 2018

End date: March 2019

Start date: May 2014

End date: October 2015

Supporting university curriculum and creativity in engineering entrepreneurship development (SUCCEED)

Sustainable development, wellbeing and entrepreneurship

Principal investigators: Dr Albert Kimbu , Dr Anna de Jong, Dr Manuel Alector Ribeiro, Dr Cristina Figueroa-Domeq, Dr Yanning Li, Dr Xuan (Lorna) Wang, Dr Etienne Bailey


Past events

New Frontiers in Hospitality and Tourism Management in Africa book cover

New Frontiers in Hospitality and Tourism Management in Africa virtual book launch

Friday, 9 July 2021 

The event which had as special guests of honour, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Sierra Leone Hon. Dr Memunatu Pratt, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ghana, Hon. Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, and the Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation Nigeria, Mr Folorunsho Coker, saw these eminent personalities deep dive into the role of policy in tourism management in their respective countries and Africa as a whole. The intense exchanges highlighted the need for more active collaboration between African academics and industry/government and importantly for Africa to start looking inward and applying home-grown solutions to addressing their challenges, especially in the post-pandemic era. Chapter authors also highlighted not only the tourism management challenges across the continent but importantly identified various innovative empirical and theoretically driven management strategies to overcome these. 

Watch the event

Pupils having a discussion

Women’s journeys through entrepreneurship in the tourism and hospitality industry

1pm - 2:30pm, Thursday 5 November 2020

This webinar was hosted by the EU-funded project WomENt and the University of Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management: specifically our Centre for Competitiveness of the Visitor Economy (COVE) and the Centre for Sustainability and Wellbeing in the Visitor Economy (SWELL). This brought together academics and entrepreneurs from the tourism industry to discuss the changing and increasingly pressing gender and entrepreneurship research agenda:

  • Setting the scene: Women and Entrepreneurship in Tourism. Dr Cristina Figueroa Domecq. University of Surrey
  • Female entrepreneurship in the Covid-19 era. Alessandra Alonso. Founder & CEO. Women in Travel
  • Women, technology and entrepreneurship. Patricia Gonzalez. Founder and CEO. Alterhome
  • Re-evaluating the benefits of women's entrepreneurship: Is it time to reconsider? Prof. Susan Marlow. University of Nottingham
  • A Feminist Research Agenda in Tourism. Dr Ana Maria Munar. Copenhagen Business School
  • Moderated by Prof. Allan Williams. Chair of Tourism and Mobility Studies. University of Surrey.
Screenshot of the zoom webinar about women in small tourism communities

Women in Small Tourism Communities

1pm - 2:30pm, Saturday 10 October 2020, SHTM, University of Surrey, Guildford.

Covid-19 has exacerbated the multiple challenges faced by women in small tourism firms (STF). It is recognised that the tourism sector provides women with employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, both vital for their economic and social independence. For women entrepreneurs, their STFs also act as platforms for the promotion of local development and social transformation and enables them to create ‘new’ self-identities.

In this webinar, two African women tourism micro entrepreneurs explain their journeys and how this has transformed them and others. They discuss the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses and the strategies they have adopted to overcome its challenges in resource-scarce environments. Two tourism industry experts from academia and industry respond to those presentations, sharing their insights into lessons being learnt and best practices during this pandemic and beyond. 

Watch the event


Membership in GESPi is open to staff across disciplines in the University of Surrey, The Open University, Associates and external collaborators with active research interest in gender, entrepreneurship and social policy. The inclusion of regional expertise between Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe will provide for cross-learning, knowledge sharing and cross-cultural perspectives. We also welcome associates from other faculties and institutions.

If you are interested in joining, please contact Dr Albert Kimbu or Dr Michael Ngoasong

Find an expert

University of Surrey

Albert Kimbu profile image

Dr Albert Kimbu

Reader, Head of Department of Tourism and Transport

Manuel Alector Ribeiro profile image

Dr Alector Ribeiro

Associate Professor in Tourism Management, Director of Tourism Programmes

Nigel Morgan profile image

Professor Nigel Morgan

Professor of Social Sustainability

Sumeetra Ramakrishnan (née Thozhur) profile image

Dr Sumeetra Ramakrishnan

Senior Teaching Fellow

Michael Humbracht profile image

Dr Michael Humbracht

Associate Lecturer

Shi (Tracy) Xu profile image

Dr Tracy Xu

Associate Professor in Hospitality

Anke Winchenbach profile image

Dr Anke Winchenbach

Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Transport

Xavier Font profile image

Professor Xavier Font

Professor of Sustainability Marketing

Yanning Li profile image

Dr Yanning Li

Senior Lecturer in Events Management

Yoo Ri Kim profile image

Dr Yoo Ri Kim

Senior Lecturer

Bora Kim profile image

Dr Bora Kim

Senior Lecturer in Hospitality Management; Co-Director of Learning and Teaching; Program Director for BSc IHM and IHTM

The Open University

Dr Michael Z. Ngoasong

Senior Lecturer in Management

Dr Lorena Lombardozzi

Lecturer in Economics

Dr Carolin Decker-Lange

Senior Lecturer in Management

Postgraduate research students

Mohamed Nageh Ibrahim profile image

Mohamed Ibrahim

Postgraduate Research Student

Tingyu Liang profile image

Tingyu Liang

PhD Researcher

Prosanjit Saha profile image

Prosanjit Saha

Postgraduate Research Student

GESPi associates

Dr Issahaku Adam

Senior Lecturer, University of Cape Coast, Ghana

Dr Ogechi Adeola

Associate Professor, Pan-Atlantic University, Nigeria

Dr Emmanuel Adu-Ampong

Docent, Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

Dr Ewoenam Afenyo-Agbe

Lecturer, University of Cape Coast, Ghana

Dr Irma Booyens

Lecturer, Strathclyde University, Glasgow

Dr Frederick Dayour

Senior Lecturer, SDD University of Business and Integrated Development Studies, Ghana

Dr Cristina Figueroa-Domecq

Associate Professor, Rey Juan Carlos University, Madrid

Dr Tembi Tichaawa

Professor, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Dr Anna de Jong

Senior Lecturer, University of Glasgow, Glasgow

Collaborators and advisers

Alessandra Alonso

Founder, Women in Travel (CIC)

Mary Dinah

Co-Founder of Joblink Foundation and CEO of MAD Hospitality Nigeria

Dr Sylvia Gavigan

Director IMC Global Consultancy, Uganda Consul General for Ireland

Gerd Junne

Founding Director of The Network University (TNU) Amsterdam, Netherlands

Judy Kepher Gona

Executive Director, Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda Nairobi, Kenya

Dimakatso Malwela

Founder Women of Value SA (WOVSA), Chairperson Southern Africa Women in Tourism (SAWIT)

Lisa Mynheer

Director at Luminno Ltd, UK

Julian Richards

Managing Editor, openDemocracy

Dr Louise Twinning-Ward

Senior Private Sector Specialist for Markets and Technology, The World Bank