Women as social entrepreneurs in the hospitality and tourism industry: Does empowerment play a role?

Kimbu, Albert N. and Ngoasong, Michael (2015). Women as social entrepreneurs in the hospitality and tourism industry: Does empowerment play a role? In: 5th Critical Tourism Studies Conference, 26-30 Jun 2015, Opatija, Croatia.


This paper which is a work in progress presents a qualitative study exploring the nature, motivations and extent to which female entrepreneurs use their H&T businesses as platforms for engagement in various forms of social entrepreneurship (SE) leading to value creation, economic and community development. Although SE is seen as a key contributor to the creation and diversification of entrepreneurial activity, women empowerment and local economic development, there is limited research on the role of female H&T entrepreneurs in emerging non -western destinations. We focus on the following research questions: a) Can female entrepreneurs in H&T be considered as social entrepreneurs? b) How does the structure and organization of society shape the nature of female participation in SE? c) What are the challenges involved in mobilizing female entrepreneurs to effectively engage in SE? d) How does SE maximise value creation and higher levels of satisfaction for all participants? Concepts from women-owned H&T enterprises, SE and women empowerment are drawn upon. We argue that women are embedded in male dominated traditions/customs, community associations and government bureaucracies that may either empowered or dis-empower them. Using the case of Cameroon, we examine how embeddedness enhances the capacity of women to engage in SE in the H&T industry, thereby contributing to local economic development. Empirically we adopt a mixed methods approach using multiple case studies: a survey questionnaire, five focus groups meetings (two women -only, one male-only, and two mix of male and female entrepreneurs) and twenty-five in-depth interviews with selected female entrepreneurs (18), (non)governmental organisations (03) and beneficiaries (04) of social enterprise ventures between May 2014 and February 2015. The findings clarify the role of women in SE in H&T and policy implications for maximising social value creation through the participation of women in SE.

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