Sunday, July 14, 2013

My MBA Graduate Profile

A Brief Synopsis of my Dissertation

Challenges and Opportunities of Women Entrepreneurs in Zambia

My research investigated the investigated the challenges and opportunities faced by thirty-five women entrepreneurs in Zambia. The research also established the effects on business management in general and entrepreneurship development in particular. The literature review indicated the following challenges for women entrepreneurs: cultural perceptions, access to capital, access  to  markets,  access  to  networks,  gender  stereo  types  and  inadequate  business education. In Zambia, the literature review identified the following challenges for women entrepreneurs:  lack  of  business  training/skills  and  experience,  bureaucratic  business registration systems and negative attitudes by society towards women in business. 

Furthermore, the literature review indicated that women entrepreneurs face a number of opportunities.  These  ranged  from  support  from  women's  associations,  gender  policies, business opportunities in various sectors and international trading opportunities. Women entrepreneurs needed to take advantage of these opportunities to grow their businesses. The study largely used the inductive approach with the deductive approach also used to collect and analyse data. The inductive approach was selected in preference to the deductive approach where it is difficult to define the control groups. Within the inductive approach a questionnaire was used as it was most suitable for this type of study.

The target population in the research was made up of all potential participants that formed the group to be studied. In this study the target population was the women entrepreneurs with registered business in the Lusaka Province of Zambia. A total of 35 out of 40 women entrepreneurs included in the sample responded to the questionnaire. This represented a response rate of 88 percent. The study focused on the challenges and opportunities of Zambian women entrepreneurs. Consequently, the questionnaire was designed to obtain the views of women entrepreneurs, policy makers and women business associations. The questionnaire was meant to help women entrepreneurs reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

The research found that women entrepreneurs faced the following challenges: access to finances,  access  to  information  which  has  led  to  poor  business  decisions,  access  to technology which resulted in low quality products and competition from well-established male  dominated  businesses.  Other  challenges  are  family  commitments  which  led  to demand  in allocation of  time and resources  required  for business growth,inadequate business support services from associations and relevant government ministries which led to stagnated  businesses,  recruiting  and  managing  the  right  staff  which  led  to  low competitiveness with competitors.  

The study recommended improved access to information, finances and technology through interventions from business support providers and the government. Other recommendations are business support programmes in business training and networking, HIV/AIDS interventions and improved human resource management and marketing strategies. In addition an effective and suitable regulatory and legal framework in order to operate effectively and efficiently were also recommended. 

My MBA Experience at Mancosa
The course work in my MBA studies from 2004 to 2006 with the Management College of Southern Africa ( where I did 13 modules (2 of them being electives in Entrepreneurship and International Marketing) was very interesting especially when researching for assignments and exams. I appreciated the value of small group study groups when preparing for exams and assignments  My dissertation supervisor: Professor Rosh Maharaj though based in Durban whilst I was in Lusaka provided me valuable guidance in my research enabling me to pass with a distinction. My graduation at the International Conference Centre in Durban, South Africa was a crowning moment after years of hard work,

What I gained from MBA
The MBA taught me to reflect on my thinking and also to always blend theory and practice when looking at management problems. I also learnt the value of pain staking research. I also learnt the value of perseverance as many times I felt like giving up in my course work and dissertation. My work involves the developing of programmes for entrepreneurship development of youths, women and those in the informal sector. My dissertation enabled me to have a much deeper understanding and experience of the challenges and opportunities faced by women entrepreneurs in Zambia. My appreciation of the critical role that women entrepreneurs play in national development has continued to grow as a result of my MBA research. I have also been able to supervise more than thirty MBA students since 2008.  Lastly, the skills I learnt in report writing have been very useful in my day to day work. 

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