Women in business in urban higher than in rural

WOMEN’S participation in business is higher in the urban centres than in rural areas, according to a survey done in 2016 by the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu (RBV).

The Preliminary Report from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) finance survey that was recently launched in Port Vila by the RBV, was to explore the MSMEs’ challenges and understand the MSMEs’ characteristics for ways forward.

The survey gender characteristics relate to women’s and youth contributions to the informal and formal MSMEs sector in Vanuatu.

These dimensions provide quality indication to the SME financial inclusion indicators base set and in measuring gaps in Vanuatu’s Maya Commitment. These include Vanuatu’s commitment to advance women under the Maya Declaration, and the 2016 Denarau Action Plan, under which Vanuatu made commitment to close the gender gap in women’s financial inclusion.

Women’s ownership is referring to the female as the sole owner of the business. This excludes women participating in family owned businesses and other forms of ownership.

The survey also showed that although men dominate business ownership in Vanuatu, women’s entrepreneurship is increasing in the share of ownership or management of business. According to the survey, 60 per cent of total business ownership is by men, followed by women with 20 per cent, with the remainder by youth, compared to Vanuatu’s commitment under the Maya Declaration to bring women’s participation in business ownership to 30 per cent.

The finding is in line with the results of the 2009 National Population and Housing Census which showed that more men are self-employed (7 per cent) than women (5 per cent) and more men are employers (2 per cent) than women (1per cent) (Vanuatu National Statistics Office, 2011).

The survey showed that the majority (26 per cent) of female respondents are located in the urban centres, compared to 18 per cent in rural areas. The high urban female in ownership is observed in business activities, such as open market vendors for the tourism industry which reflects factors present in urban settings that facilitate women in business.

The findings corporate the results of the 2009 National Population and Housing Census showing 69 per cent women in urban areas, are producing goods for the sale, while 43 per cent are in the rural areas. (Vanuatu National Statistics Office, 2011).

A high number of women are engaged in informal than formal MSMEs.

Of the total women respondents, 21 per cent are engaged in informal MSMEs, while 10 per cent are in formal MSMEs. A high proportion of women in the formal sector are engaged in businesses such as food stalls, kava bars, handicraft markets, fresh – produce market vendors, owners of private early childhood education, and so on.Those in the formal SMSE sector are involved in accommodation, agriculture, bungalows, distributions, hotels and restaurants, rental, tours and transport.

The results conform to the 2009 National population and housing census findings in which 5 per cent of women are self-employed, while 1 per cent are employers (Vanuatu National Statistics Office, 2011).

A high percentage of women entrepreneurs are engaged in the industry sector. Thirty two percent of female entrepreneurs are engaged in the industry sector, compared to 19 per cent in the services sector, and 10 per cent in the agriculture sector.

Their high participation rate possibly reflects the limited number of commercial bakeries in the rural areas, and their suitability to the business, which involves manufacturing of bread doughnuts, pastries and confectionaries, and value added products such as producing chips from root crops. Moreover, more women entrepreneurs are progressing into manufacturing of beauty and body products, such as coconut oil, soap and local artifacts.

The majority of female entrepreneurs have completed secondary education. Of the total female respondents, 19 per cent of female business owners have completed primary education, followed by 22 per cent and 14 per cent with secondary and tertiary education levels, respectively.