Improving mentoring for women to increase entrepreneurship in a rural context

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Abstract

Applicability to theme: Whilst the number of women-owned enterprises has been increasing substantially in recent decades, women still lag behind men in the creation of new enterprises. This is especially so in rural economies, despite the possibility that entrepreneurial activities would increase women’s economic activity in rural areas. Several studies have addressed how a rural environment may affect entrepreneurship but have been mainly situated in developing economies (Patridou and Glaveli, 2008; Stefan, 2014; Odoul et al.,2017; Naminse, Zhuang and Zhu, 2019). Mentoring is a form of support that is suggested as particularly relevant to women entrepreneurs (Laukhuf and Malone, 2015; McMullan and Price, 2012) as it could tackle the problem of the under-representation of women. Policy often includes mentoring as a fundamental element of support for women.
Aim: This paper aims to examine whether mentoring is effective in supporting women in a rural context to engage in entrepreneurial activity. It addresses the lack of knowledge of developed economies through undertaking a study of mentoring of female entrepreneurs in the South Hams in Devon, UK. This area is a vibrant rural area. It seeks to contribute insights to the development of institutional support programmes, and thus bridge the gap between policy and practice as well as creating value, employment and community involvement.
There is no clear definition of what constitutes rural enterprise in the UK, a rural enterprise is simply a business registered at an address in an area defined as rural by the Department of Rural Affairs (DEFRA, 2011). It has previously been equated with land based businesses, mainly agriculture and tourism. A useful classification of rural entrepreneurship distinguishes between exhibiting “rural entrepreneurship” (RE) or “entrepreneurship in the rural” (EIR). The latter uses the rural context simply as a location. The former is embedded in the rural context (Korsgaard, Muller and Tanvig, 2015).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInstitute for Small Business Research
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2021

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