Women in business in the Province of Shaanxi, China : an entrepreneurial perspective.
Since China's introduction of economic reform and adoption of market-oriented programs, more and more people are going into business. China registered an average annual GDP growth of over 8% in the past ten years. Moreover, during the past ten years (1995-2005), the number of women-owned businesses in China has increased significantly, and these businesses are just as successful as those owned by men. With an increasing number of them participating, women have become a major force in China's economic development, even in Shaanxi. The need for a better understanding of this emerging economy and of women entrepreneurs in small firm motivated the researcher to undertake this study. Moreover, this study was guided by the following research objectives: Primary objectives • Determine the motivations underpinning entry of women into small business in Shaanxi • Examine the barriers and challenges that female entrepreneurs face and how can these be addressed • Examine the contribution of female entrepreneurs to the regional development of the province with regard to employment • Consider the determinants of the employment growth of women-owned business as in Shaanxi • Examine the determinants of the performance of female entrepreneurs in Shaanxi • Make suggestions regarding further research on entrepreneurship development in Shaanxi province, China • Examine whether source of funding is associated with the education of the entrepreneurs. Secondary objectives • Examine whether perceptions of support for women entrepreneurs vary with marital status and education. • Examine whether perceptions of support for women entrepreneurs vary with training and networks. • Examine whether belonging to a business network is related to the marital status and education of the women entrepreneurs. According to surveyed entrepreneurs, the quest for personal development (pull) and a feeling of not "fit in" with the organisation (push) are two main factors which motivated women to go into business as self-employed persons. The main barriers to them start-up in business are availability of funds and family support. Problems still exist, but women entrepreneurs made a great contribution to Shaanxi's provincial economic development, especially in terms of employment creation opportunities. The regression analysis shows that education and experience of the entrepreneurs contribute significantly to employment growth. Moreover, efficient business networks, availability of funding with training opportunities and the support from government are seemingly rather weak in Shaanxi, China. Results of the hypotheses tests indicate that training, networks, business location, family member employees and prior working experience of the women entrepreneurs contribute significantly to better performance in business.