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By: Norng Sokha

Subcommittee of Cambodia Economic Research and Analysis
ACLEDA Institute of Business
Phnom Penh, December 13, 2019

I. Introduction

It is clearly stated that the growth of female enterprises is good for economies (Coughlin & Thomas, 2002) women entrepreneurs have a significant impact on the economic growth in Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP, 2013). In modern societies, women play important roles in improving the living standard of their households (RehmanAlvi, T. et al., 2012). ADB report also addresses that women's entrepreneurship plays a crucial part in pushing the economic growth and job creation (ADB, 2015); and they have positively contributed to economic development worldwide (Bouzekraoui & Ferhane, 2017). Therefore, this paper is attempted to illustrate the concept of women entrepreneurs and their contribution towards the improvements of living standards in Cambodia. Also, this paper has a certain limitation as it is based solely on the secondary data.

II. Key Concepts of Women Entrepreneurs

This section will address several definitions and key concepts of women entrepreneurs from the existing literature. According to Schumpeter, J. (1961), Entrepreneurship is an economic activity which is undertaken by an individual or group of individuals; they controlled the economy because it is their responsibility to deliver innovation and technological change. Several years later, Schumpeter, J. (1965) defined entrepreneurs as individuals who exploit market opportunity through technical and/or organizational innovation.

More recently, a new trend has emerged where women are becoming entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneur is an enterprising individual with an eye for opportunities and an uncanny vision, commercial acumen, with tremendous perseverance (Vinze, 1987). Lavoie (1988) called the she-entrepreneur as the one is the owner or head of a company; and Belcourt et al. (1991) defined the she-entrepreneur as a woman who seeks self-fulfillment, financial autonomy and control over her existence thanks to the launch and management of her own business. Moore & Buttner (1997) defined female entrepreneurs as those who use their knowledge and resources to develop or create new business opportunities. Terjesen & Lloyd (2015) defined women entrepreneur as those who own and operate businesses that innovative, market expanding, and export-oriented; and Rashmi (2016) defined women entrepreneur as the women or a group of women who initiate, organize and operate a business enterprise.

III. Impacts of Women Entrepreneurs on Standards of Livings

Many studies have recently focused on women entrepreneurs and their roles. The report of OECD (2008) showed that women's entrepreneurship represents an important economic strength because they generate both substantial sales and employment for themselves and others. Moreover, several studies in different parts of the world supported that women entrepreneurs contributed positively to the economy (Lechman & Okonowicz, 2013; Lewist et al., 2014 & Woetzel et al., 2015). For instance, women entrepreneurs aided to the economic development in the Solomon Islands (Tobias & Froniga, 2011); and women entrepreneurs contributed directly to the economic growth in India (Malyadri, 2014). This study also elaborated that they contributed towards improving the balanced regional development, improvement of living standard and innovation(ibid.).

A study in Barcelona simulated an occupational choice model with heterogeneous agents in entrepreneurial ability, where agents choose to be workers, self-employed or employers; and the model assumed that men and women have the same talent distribution (Cuberes & Teignier, 2015). Another study showed that women entrepreneurs are key to accelerating growth of economy (Fetch et al., 2015). According to World Bank, female entrepreneurs play important role in economic development (Meunier et al., 2017).

IV. The Roles of Women Entrepreneurship in Cambodia Economy

Women are becoming entrepreneurs of small and medium enterprises (Makararavy, et al., 2009). In the SME Finance Forum, International Finance Corporation (IFC) showed that 65% of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) led by women in Cambodia (OECD, 2017). According to the Asia Foundation (2013), women play crucial roles in economy in Cambodia; especially, they are responsible for production and marketing of products. According to the Royal Government's Rectangular Strategy (phase III 2014-2018), the Cambodian government believes that the more women participate in the economy, the higher the government can achieve the national goals.

V. Concluding Remarks

It is no doubtful that women have played an important role in promoting economic development worldwide especially in Cambodia. Therefore, there are many stakeholders and international partners taking part in promoting women entrepreneur through training and development programs; for instance, WiBKH which is a not-for-profit initiative jointly run by three chambers of commerce, has been hosted networking and enrichment programs for female entrepreneurs in Cambodia (Phnom Penh Post, 2019). Moreover, IFC of the World Bank, ADB, Asia Foundation and ILO all have supported development program for women especially women entrepreneurs. Even though many programs have been in place to promote women and women entrepreneurs in Cambodia, there's still a lack of formal training and development programs for young women at either secondary education or higher education level.


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