Influence of gender on SME performance in emerging economies

  • Shava H
  • Rungani E
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Research purpose: The aim of this article was to establish whether or not performance between male-owned and female-owned small and medium-sized entities (SMEs) differs significantly and to assess the extent to which the gender gap in SME performance (if any) could be allocated to gender differences in levels of business-related experience.Motivation for the study: The influence of gender on SME performance is well documented from an international perspective. However, what lacks in extant literature is the understanding of whether the performance gap between male and female entity owners with similar business-related experience exists or not. This study investigated gender influence through data collected from both male and female entity owners.Research design, approach and method: The study was descriptive by design. Primary data were collected through self-administered questionnaires. Data analysis was undertaken through t-test and chi-square analysis.Main findings: The findings confirm that male- and female-owned SMEs perform at similar levels, given that such owners possess high business-related experience. Therefore, gender gap in firm performance does not exist among male and female entrepreneurs who fall either in low or high business-related experience categories.Contribution/value-add: The value of this research lies in the findings contrary to extant literature; that gender plays no role in the performance of SMEs. However, the level of business-related experience the owner holds, regardless of gender, influences the entity’s performance.Conclusion: Contrary to evidence provided in literature, the study concludes that focusing on the impact of gender on entrepreneurship with the aim of comparing business outcomes of male- and female-owned entities, while ignoring the role of key variables such as business-related experience, may yield misleading results.




Shava, H., & Rungani, E. C. (2016). Influence of gender on SME performance in emerging economies. Acta Commercii, 16(1).

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