Women Entrepreneurship and The Changing Institutional Environment: A Case Study of Bugolobi Market, Kampala

Stephanie Vogelius

Student thesis: Master thesis


The story of women entrepreneurs in Uganda is a testimony of an entrepreneurial group dominating the sector for micro and small sized enterprises within the informal economy. Women in Uganda are both seen as having productive and reproductive roles, contributing respectively to the national economy and household welfare. Their productive roles in society are increasingly acknowledged, yet are still marked by conspicuous gender inequality and labor market discrimination. In order to apprehend why the majority of women are active as entrepreneurs, a single case study has been conducted to investigate: What motivates women entrepreneurs in Bugolobi Market, Kampala, to run their own business? To answer this research question, two supportive subquestions help uncover how normative and cultural-cognitive institutions in conjunction with gender dynamics influence women's motivations to pursue self-employment. To advance an academic and theoretical lens, Scott's institutional framework along with liberal feminism have been applied to analyze the entrepreneurial environment in which the women live and operate as well as the way societal structures impact their behaviors, attitudes, values and roles in society. In this regard, specific emphasis has been placed on the normative environment and cultural-cognitive institutional influences. In order to frame the phenomenon of women entrepreneurship and their motivation to engage in marketplace activities, a pragmatic methodology inspired by critical realism has been adopted. In line with the applied feminist approach, a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data derived from women entrepreneurs inspires the data collection process. The women's incentives to engage in entrepreneurial business undertakings are analyzed through three categories: family structures, workplace relations and education and training. Empirical findings show that women are considered the primary household caretakers, which encourages them to use entrepreneurship as a tool to ensure family well-being. In addition, imbalanced gender roles and patriarchal structures cause many women to seek increased independence through entrepreneurship to gain personal empowerment, self-reliance and wealth accumulation. Bugolobi Market offers an opportunity space where they can gain shared knowledge, social network relations, secure working conditions, institutional support and informal loans to nourish their entrepreneurial spirit. The study reveals a slow shift in the cultural-cognitive mindset of individuals as well as the normative institution as education and business training for women has gained increased attention in recent years.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages101