Handwork, foodwork and small commerce: reflections on gendered microenterprise in Bolivia

Eversole, R 2004, 'Handwork, foodwork and small commerce: reflections on gendered microenterprise in Bolivia' in S. Charlesworth and M. Fasteanu (ed.) Women and Work: Current RMIT University Research, RMIT Publishing, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 124-135.


Document type: Book Chapter
Collection: Book Chapters

Title Handwork, foodwork and small commerce: reflections on gendered microenterprise in Bolivia
Author(s) Eversole, R
Year 2004
Title of book Women and Work: Current RMIT University Research
Publisher RMIT Publishing
Place of publication Melbourne, Australia
Editor(s) S. Charlesworth and M. Fasteanu
Start page 124
End page 135
Subjects Sociology not elsewhere classified
Summary Over several years of working with microenterprises and the microenterprise development sector in Bolivia, the author has observed strong patterns in the kinds of businesses women start and how these differ significantly from men's businesses. Women business owners comprise a large part of the Bolivian microenterprise sector, independently managing their own businesses in many cases, yet the range of types of women's businesses is surprisingly limited. The great majority of these businesses draw on common domestic skills (sewing, knitting, cooking), or the cultural institution of female-dominated market vending. While earnings vary widely, in general women's businesses earn less than men's businesses, generally operating in saturated and pricecompetitive markets. This paper reflects on the reasons Bolivian women confine themselves to a narrow range of business activities, often those with limited potential, and explores some exceptions to the rule, in which women have taken leading roles in less-traditional enterprises (such as computing and carpentry). In each case, it is seen, a male immediate family member (husband, father) has played the role of linking women entrepreneurs into a business sector other than those where women are typically found.
Copyright notice ©2004 Robyn Eversole
ISBN 0864593376
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