For the Inclusion of Local Actors in the Promotion of Female Entrepreneurship
This diagnosis has been elaborated by the Association des femmes en économie verte (Association of women in green economy – AFEV) whose president is Karima Kadda Touati. AFEV was set up in 2013. Its mission is to contribute actively to sustainable economic development in Algeria. In May 2015, it launched its “Young Green Entrepreneur” project, a training programme to promote responsible green entrepreneurship in Algeria. This project has mobilised young people and women with a view to including them in the labour market and ensuring decent incomes, as green jobs represent potential activity in all economic spheres and a bridge towards a more environmentally friendly economy. In 2016, the AFEV organised training sessions in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as part of its “Women for Growth” project. This action has allowed female entrepreneurs to best manage their activities and their businesses, which are their only resources to help meet their families’ needs.
The diagnosis was drawn up in collaboration with Kahina Hammache Elkaina, a consultant researcher at the Research Centre in Applied Economics for Development (CREAD), who is currently directing a research project entitled “Female entrepreneurship in Algeria: obstacles, expectations and solutions” registered under the number “CREAD/CS17/2016”.
Members of the local cluster of gender equality actors© were also involved, in particular:
- Ms. Zahia Ouanes, local elected representative from the Bouzaréah People and communal assembly (APC).
- Mr. Chikhi Hacene, manager at the Alger Centre APC.
- Mr. Daddiouamer Salah, director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of Mezghena.
The purpose of the diagnosis is to analyse obstacles to entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial intentions of women from the wilaya of Algiers, taking two districts of the city of Algiers as case studies:
Municipality of Bouzaréah: the El Idrissi district, with the reputation of being rather conservative1, which registers female economic activities in the informal sector.
The municipality of Alger Centre: the Didouche Mourad district, with the reputation of being modern, records female activities in the formal sector.
The Bouzaréah and Alger Centre municipalities have some differences in anthropological, social and economic terms.
Introduction to the municipality of Bouzaréah
Bouzaréah is the 11th arrondissement of Algiers. The municipality is 8 km west from the centre of Algiers and it has a population of 102,670 inhabitants.
Introduction to the municipality of Alger Centre
The municipality of Alger Centre is north of the wilaya of Algiers. It constitutes the heart of the city of Algiers, even though the historic centre is the Casbah. Alger Centre is the central municipality of modern Algiers. It has the main shopping and administrative streets, with the seat of government, the National Assembly, the National Council, several ministries and the headquarters of the wilaya of Algiers. It has a population of 75,541 inhabitants.
a. Target population
The survey has been carried out with a total of 195 women:
- 150 women who have not established entrepreneurial activities: diagnosis of the reasons why they are not active, the obstacles and difficulties perceived.
- 45 women who have established entrepreneurial activities: difficulties and obstacles experienced.
- Comparative study between women who have not created an enterprise of the El Idrissi district of the Bouzaréah municipality and the inactive population of the Didouche Mourad district of the Alger Centre municipality concerning their entrepreneurial intentions.
- Study describing the difficulties faced by female entrepreneurs (quantitative survey by questionnaire and qualitative study by focus group).
c. The tools used
- Questionnaires administered to the two kinds of target population (75 questionnaires for women not involved in entrepreneurial activity from El Idrissi, 75 questionnaires for women not involved in entrepreneurial activity from Didouche Mourad district, and 45 questionnaires administered to female entrepreneurs from Alger Centre. None to female entrepreneurs from El Idrissi because there are none).
- Focus group with three female entrepreneurs from the Bouzaréah municipality (from other districts than El Idrissi) who agreed to come to the CCI Mezghenna office in April 2017.
|Bouzaréah municipality||Alger Centre municipality||Total|
d. Data analysis
- The questionnaires were entered in the SPSS software.
- The focus group results were analysed in accordance with the qualitative corpus analysis method.
Key Concepts Used:
- Female entrepreneurship: the creation and development of businesses and economic activities by women.
- Entrepreneurial intention: entrepreneurial intention is the first act in the entrepreneurial process. It summarises a person’s conscious or unconscious desire to set up their own business.
- Social and solidarity economy: the set of businesses organised in the form of cooperatives, mutual organisations, associations or foundations whose internal operation and activities are based on principles of solidarity, sustainability and social utility. In the production and sale of their products, these businesses are sensitive to aspects such as recycling, environmental protection in resource consumption, the transparency of their sources of funding, taking into account the needs of socially vulnerable people, etc.
Current Situation of Female Entrepreneurship in Alger Centre and Bouzaréah
Current Situation at Political, Social, Economic, Legal and/or Statistical Level:
- ILO conventions on the night work of women, the equal remuneration and the discrimination (employment and occupation) conventions were ratified by the Algerian State, the first two in 1962 and the last one in 1969.
- The UNESCO convention against discrimination in education was ratified in 1968.
- The International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, ratified in 1989, commits the State into ensuring equal rights for men and women in all these respects.
- Finally, the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified in 1996, is undoubtedly the international agreement most relevant to gender equality in all areas of economic, political, social and cultural life.
- The Constitution is the basic text which, in article 29, includes the principle of equality between male and female citizens in all areas. The Act of 12 January 2012, adopted under article 31b of the Constitution, as amended in 2008, stipulates that “The State works to promote the political rights of women by increasing their opportunities for access to representation in the elected assemblies”. The Constitution guarantees non-discrimination in recruitment, and equal pay. It also establishes provisions against sexual harassment. There are restrictions on employment in certain sectors of activity, a pension and social security system, maternity/parental leave, and other benefits.
- Important decisions have been made by the current President, essentially concerning the extension of the presence of women in important functions in government, the administration and public institutions.
- In the general context of encouraging and incentivising investment, more recent decisions were made in February 2011, notably concerning the provision of access to property and finance of Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), intended to benefit all entrepreneurs and women in particular.
- Individual rights and freedoms (freedom of expression, of religion, of association, of private property and to circulate and travel freely) are recognised.
Presence of Women in Public Spaces
a. Women in school
- Data from the National Statistical Office (ONS) shows a slight predominance of boys at primary and secondary school levels. However, more girls than boys pass the examination for admission to the higher university cycle, which explains the higher rate of women entering university by obtaining the baccalaureate.
- The Ministry’s higher education data stipulate that, between 2006 and 2010, 59% of those enrolled on degree courses were girls, while 41% were boys. The same trend is observed in 2010 for university graduates: 62% were girls and 38% boys.
- By contrast, for enrolments on master’s degree courses and PhDs the trend is reversed: 52% of those enrolled are male compared to 48% female.
b. Female employment
The ONS data reveals strong growth in female employment. Women represented just 5.2% of the total active population in 1971, but in 2016 the rate reached 20.4%.
ILO data shows that a large majority of working women are employees. 52.6% of working women are permanent employees whereas 26.2% are temporary employees or apprentices. Also, according to the ONS household survey, the rate of inclusion in the workforce of the population aged 15 and over (or economic activity rate) in 2011 reached 17.7% among women.
Of the 1,885,000 active women, 1,561,000 are working and 324,000 are unemployed. Among the inactive ones, the majority are housewives or studying, and 652,000 are retired or pensioners. However, 697,000 of the inactive women want to work but are not looking for a job.
Current Situation of Female Entrepreneurship in Algeria
a. Situation of female entrepreneurship in general
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of businesses established by women. Because of its specific features and requirements, female entrepreneurship in Algeria has become a force likely to contribute to economic mutation and the overall sustainable development of the country. According to ONS nomenclature, female entrepreneurs include self-employed women, doctors, dentists, accountants and female employers running businesses. Female employers and self-employed women make up just 19.0% of the female workforce compared to 30.9% among men.
According to the same source, men are keener on entrepreneurship than women in that, in 2013, there were 12 male employers for every woman, while among self-employed people the figure was 6.37 men for every woman.
ONS data also show a disparity between self-employed women and female employers. Unlike self-employed women, female employers are relatively better educated. 34.8% of them hold a higher education degree or diploma, compared to just 4.9% among self-employed women. While self-employed women are largely involved in industrial, craft and commercial activities, female employers are mainly orientated towards commercial activities and services.
Female employers run very small businesses, accounting for 88% of all women’s enterprises. Only 6.4% of them fall into the category of having between 10 and 49 employees.
Almost one female employer out of three (29.9%) belongs to the “direct services to individuals and retailers” group and 28.4% are involved in an intellectual or academic profession. This proportion only reaches 4.6% among self-employed women, who largely do skilled jobs in industry and craft, accounting for 69.2% of the total.
It should also be mentioned that, according to the data provided by the different business support structures, most entrepreneurial activities are not assisted by these institutions. Only 46% of entrepreneurs benefit from the mechanisms of the National Algerian Micro-credit Management Agency (ANGEM). Use of other institutions remains very low.
Concerning funding institutions, each wilaya has an ANGEM office in charge of training and supporting project managers (women and men). In addition, the Ministry of National Solidarity, Family and the Status of Women has carried out a project to raise awareness of entrepreneurship among women in isolated regions in some wilayas in the east and west of the country.
b. Some considerations
Despite the fact that the Bouzaréah municipality is part of the capital, the women there live in a rather conservative environment where their mobility is somewhat restricted. However, these women do carry out economic activities in other municipalities with customs more favourable to women’s activities2. Many municipalities in the capital and in the country are in the same situation, and this case study could equally apply to other municipalities in the country.
Despite State’s genuine intentions to include women in the economic sector through the Constitution, laws and the different mechanisms to encourage and promote entrepreneurship, many women from Bouzaréah are confronted with a traditional culture which holds women back from becoming economically independent. The Algerian legal system consists of updated regulatory provisions coexisting with theologically inspired legal rules establishing a dualist legal situation in which the application of the law is considered fair by some and unfair by others depending on whether or not they uphold the ideas of a traditional society.
The legitimate choice by legislators of an Algerian legal system breaking with French law even if it was renewed after independence, reflects both Arab-Muslim culture and the socialist option chosen at the time by the public authorities. They opted for a legal system with socialist influences though “private” sphere issues are inspired by Muslim law. Concerning inheritance, for example, women have the right to half the man’s share, as established in the Quran.
The result of this unusual legal environment is a society with a complex structure, where various models for social projects coexist. One is traditional, upholding the application of Muslim law when personal morality and the family are concerned, while there is also an underlying socialist-inspired project for society, maintaining equal rights and duties between genders.
Incentives and Obstacles for Change
Obstacles to Entrepreneurial Intentions Among 150 Women Without Economic Activity from Bouzaréah and Alger Centre
As part of this survey, the biggest challenges faced by women from the two areas when starting up a business are access to funding and having family support. Women from the Bouzaréah district also identified building a customer base as a challenge.
|Access to funding||65%||91%|
|Finding a site suitable for the business||0%||3%|
|Finding information relating to starting a business||28%||9%|
|Taking care of requirements concerning registration and regulations||1%||36%|
|Knowing where to go to get advice||6%||4%|
Most women from the Bouzaréah area without activity have a negative image of women entrepreneurs, unlike those in Alger-Centre.
Most inactive women from the Bouzaréah area do not want to set up a business, unlike those in Alger-Centre.
45% of women in Alger-Centre are against financial risk-taking and most women in Bouzaréah did not care to comment.
When asked, the most popular branch of activity where women would consider setting up a business is personal services – rather than services to businesses – such as fashion, hairdressing, catering and commercial services. The social economy and solidarity sector does not appear, showing a lack of knowledge of this area.
When asked if they were to start a business activity, most women in Bouzaréah answered they would have no intention of formally establishing their businesses, unlike most women in Alger Centre.
Obstacles to Entrepreneurship for 45 Women Who Have Set Up Businesses
The majority of women entrepreneurs who replied to the survey operate in personal services.
The majority of women entrepreneurs are involved in the sale of wellness products, fashion, and baking and selling cakes.
The majority of women entrepreneurs face financial difficulties and problems in building a customer base.
|Access to funding||64%||36%|
|Being supported by the family||18%||82%|
|Finding a site||2%||98%|
|Taking care of requirements concerning registration and regulations||2%||98%|
The main problems encountered by women entrepreneurs in getting loans, are the guarantee requirements and the interest rates imposed.
The majority of women entrepreneurs found problems in the application of government regulations, finding a suitable site and getting advice about growth.
|Elements likely to constitute problems||Yes||No|
|Access to funding||6.8||93.2|
|Finding a suitable site||83.7||16.3|
|Finding information on new markets||70.5||29.5|
|Finding qualified, trustworthy employees||68.2||31.8|
|Applying government regulations||93.2||6.8|
|Advice on growth||79.5||20.5|
Focus Group Analysis
The three women entrepreneurs taking part in the focus group explained many of the constraints they have had to face, including:
– Sexual harassment: “I never visit my customers alone, I always go accompanied by my husband so as not to give them the chance to make indecent proposals” (female entrepreneur (FE) in audiovisual production),
– Unfair competition: “My rivalhijacks my customers for their own benefit” (FE in the fashion industry),
– Infringement of intellectual property: “A television channel stole my idea for a sitcom scenario” (FE in audiovisual production),
– Symbolic violence: “my neighbour belittles me with my family and customers” (FE in audiovisual production).
At Local Level
- One type of actor is shown to be decisive in the local stimulation of female entrepreneurship: local associations because they are close to the residents of the district. These associations can be helped and trained so they are in a position to raise awareness and support and train female entrepreneurs. The most suitable types of organisation for this operation are charitable associations, associations for people with disabilities, cultural associations, and organisations in the promotion of women and youth. Associations involved in raising awareness among entrepreneurs at national level may not reach certain districts.
- Involving local authorities in raising awareness of the advantages of female entrepreneurship and launching targeted actions with regard to the district and women’s competences.
- Involving local authorities in raising awareness of the advantages of formally establishing economic activities.
- Encouraging women to create a local network of female entrepreneurs.
- Involving female entrepreneurs who have succeeded in the everyday life of the district.
- Planning to introduce leisure activities or participatory courses on entrepreneurship at school, trying to get local female entrepreneurs to take part in them, in coordination with the APC.
- Organising special trade fairs and exhibitions for female entrepreneurs in the district.
- Raising awareness and supporting women’s businesses in each district in the social and solidarity economy sector, taking into account information from the district.
- Making a greater effort to communicate on the policies and actions currently in place to promote businesses so that female entrepreneurs from the district are better informed (see the 2017 ILO report on the evaluation of the framework conditions for the development of female entrepreneurship in Algeria).
- Raising awareness and supporting women’s businesses in the district in promoting and selling products and services internationally.
At National Level
- Making information about the job market more accessible by centralising and simplifying information and using the right media (websites, television, posters, door-to-door, etc.) to reach women in general and female entrepreneurs in particular.
- Reviewing and adapting the range of funding aid for new businesses in order to diversify services depending on the sector, the region and the size of company.
- Creating a special public fund intended for female entrepreneurs to improve their access to funding for starting up and expanding their businesses.
- Reinforcing the capacity of organisations to help businesses with post-training support that combines training and coaching at the different development phases of businesses belonging to women.
- Implementing programmes for awareness-raising, training, support and funding to help businesses belonging to women meet international standards and the regulations and needs of big companies, such as “Get ahead” training and GERME (Gérer mieux son entreprise – Manage your business better) training recommended by the ILO.
- Making successful female entrepreneurs visible. Some magazines, like Djazariat, do such a thing, but they do not have large circulations.
The biggest challenges faced by women from the two areas targeted through this diagnosis (Alger Centre and Bouzaréah) in starting businesses are access to funding, having family support and building a customer base. These are exactly the same challenges actually experienced by women who have developed entrepreneurial activity.
Women who are not active aspire to create businesses in the so-called “female” sector – personal services, hairdressing, making cakes – and these are the branches of activity where female entrepreneurs are already active. These branches of activity tend to reproduce gender role division according to which women devote themselves to domestic activities. The social economy and solidarity sector offers great potential that must be explored.
Women in the Bouzaréah district are not greatly attracted by female entrepreneurship. If they are drawn to setting up an activity, they do not envisage formally establishing it. This is linked to their social and cultural context, which does not encourage them to be autonomous.
All these women, whether they are entrepreneurs or whether they have not yet created any activity, need information, training and specialised support.
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Articles in books
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ADMANE Rekia, PhD thesis in sociology on female entrepreneurs from the angle of the challenge they pose to social structures in Algeria, defended in 2008.
BENMEKHLOUF Yasmina, Incidences économiques et limites de son accompagnement dans la wilaya de Tizi-Ouzou (Economic incidents and the limits of support in the wilaya of Tizi-Ouzou), 2014.
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