In the pre-independence days in Zambia, there were a very small number of businessmen who could be called entrepreneurs. By the time of independence, Zambia did not have businessmen and women who were experienced in handling complex businesses. African businesses only started to grow when a cash economy became the standard for business transactions. Zambia gained its independence with a less than well-developed African bourgeoisie, ill-equipped to administer the economy (Chipungu, 1992:174-175).
The Zambian Government has developed a Gender Policy in order to facilitate the process of removing gender imbalances. This is in recognition of the need for equal and full participation of women and men at all levels of national development. Government has put in place policies that facilitate entrepreneurship training programmes for both women and men. Some women are forced to engage in petty trading which is not very profitable. This problem has been exacerbated by women's insufficient participation in the various decision-making bodies of commerce, trade and industry, lack of entrepreneurial skills and gender stereotyping because of negative cultural attitudes and limited access to education (Gender in Development Division, 2000:48, 77).
In the 1990s political and economic transformation in Southern-African countries led to shifts from command to demand economies and dictatorships to democracy. These changes created economic opportunities for women who wanted to own and operate their own businesses. Zambia has developed policies that provide a policy framework for entrepreneurship development. These are the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) Policy, the Commercial, Industrial and Trade Policy and the Small and Micro-Entreprise (SME) Policy. The TEVET Policy addresses issues of disadvantaged groups such as women, youths, persons with disabilities and retrenches as needing policy interventions in order to undertake entrepreneurial activities (Ministry of Science, Technology, and Vocational Training, 1998:10). The Commercial, Trade and Industrial Policy has a policy objective of assisting domestic firms to increase their levels of efficiency and competitiveness, and therefore withstand increasing competition in domestic and international markets (Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, 2005:33). The SME Policy
Women are active participants in the small and micro enterprises (SME) sector throughout the world, especially those running informal enterprises. However, research has shown that women entrepreneurs face particular socio-cultural, educational and technical constraints to starting, and growing their own enterprises (International Labour Organisation, 2003:1). This study differs from the one conducted by ILO as the focus of that study was on enhancing the contribution of women entrepreneurs to the creation of meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities and poverty reduction. This study focuses on enhancing the business management of women entrepreneurs so that they have equal opportunities as their male counterparts in contributing to the socio-economic development of Zambia. The study also seeks to provide policy recommendations for the further development of entrepreneurship in general and women's entrepreneurship in Zambia in particular. Currently there is lack of a strong policy framework that supports the growth of an entrepreneurial culture among Zambians and growth of women's entrepreneurship development.
27 July 2017