The role of mentoring for women entrepreneurs in a rural context

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Abstract

This paper aims to examine whether mentoring is effective in supporting women in a rural context to engage in entrepreneurial activity. 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. A useful classification of rural entrepreneurship distinguishes “rural entrepreneurship” (RE) and “entrepreneurship in the rural” (EIR). The latter uses the rural context simply as a location. The former is embedded in the rural context. An interpretivist approach was adopted using a qualitative research design. One-off in-depth interviews were conducted with a sample of 24 women who operate in some of the most common areas for women entrepreneurs and 6 of their mentors. Quota sampling was combined with a purposive approach to select those who had had experience of mentoring. Upbringing was found to be a major influence on whether women engaged in entrepreneurship. Most stated that there had been no suggestion that this was a possibility from their schooling. With regards to mentoring, most expressed the view that it was “vital”. Most were very pragmatic about seeking out practical advice. The most significant form of mentoring was found to be peer mentoring, from women’s business networks, professional associations and online networks. Bearing in mind the small sample size, the findings indicate a more targeted approach to mentoring programmes should be taken. Peer mentoring has not been explored in depth. More could be done to support established businesses rather than a focus on start ups. In addition, the curriculum could be broadened to include recognition of entrepreneurship as a valid career path.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 16th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ECIE 2021
EditorsFlorinda Matos, Maria de Fátima Ferreiro, Isabel Salavisa, Álvaro Rosa
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Pages1213-1220
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781914587153
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2021
Event16th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ECIE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 16 Sep 202117 Sep 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of the European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ECIE
ISSN (Print)2049-1050

Conference

Conference16th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ECIE 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Period16/09/2117/09/21

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Mentoring
  • Rural enterprise
  • Women entrepreneurs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management

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