restricted access 6. Gender, Social Capital and Entrepreneurship in Cameroon
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123 6 Gender, Social Capital and Entrepreneurship in Cameroon Vukenkeng Andrew Wujung Introduction In sub-Saharan Africa as elsewhere, gender inequality has generally been unfavourable to women especially in the modern sector of the economy. According to Hersch (1991), women have traditionally been confined to two types of productive activities, one in the market and the other at home. Hence according to the human capital theory (Boden and Nucci, 2000; Hisrich and C. Brush, 1983), women who assume the majority of household chores would expect discontinuous labour force participation and fewer total years in the labour force than men. Women will therefore have fewer years over which to reap the rewards and hence will optimally choose to acquire less human capital. This dual responsibility of women compromises their performance in whatever economic activity they find themselves in. In the primary sector, the different roles of each sex lead to different constraints and flexibilities as evidenced by Burfisher and Stein (1983). In this sector, the nature and poor seasonal distribution of the labour requirements of women gives them less ability and incentive than men to adopt new technologies. As a result, a majority of women in this sector quite often occupy themselves with the production of food-crops. As concerns women’s participation and productivity in agriculture, it is held that this is dependent on physical factors associated with size, strength, reproduction, socio-cultural and institutional factors as well as family incentive structures as already observed. Cloud and Overholt (1983) have demonstrated that men monopolize the use of new equipment and modern methods in 124 agriculture. Women, with responsibilities for particular crops or with management responsibilities for entire household production systems often lack access to modern inputs through exclusion from farmers’ associations or cooperatives and through lack of access to capital, credit or government extension services. Moreover, policies such as those of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) type have been shown to discriminate against women in the primary sector in subSaharan Africa. Due and Gladwin (1991) have shown, for example, that women producers especially female heads of households lack access to basic inputs of production and this is reflected in lower production, incomes and resources. Goheen (1993) identifies a similar institutional barrier exacerbated by the SAP crisis on women in Nso in the North West Region of Cameroon. Elsewhere, Nalan (2008) using correlation analysis on a sample of 304 female entrepreneurs in Mersin describes entrepreneurship as a construct based on entrepreneurial personality characteristics, the proportion of socio-cultural entrepreneurship and gender roles. The study equally demonstrates the differences between migrant and nonmigrant female entrepreneurship. Finally it predicts high and low levels of social capital amongst female entrepreneurs based on the aforementioned characteristics. The analysis predicts a higher social capital by migrant status resulting from stronger personal contacts and the socio-cultural proportion of their communities. Social capital is strongly associated with age, professional training and work experience. However, the aspect of performance is completely left out from this study Meanwhile, Sahn and Haddad (1991) demonstrate that the political empowerment of women which could provide equal access to credit and market information and facilities, participation in the political process and ownership of assets, has been slow. Bardasi, Blackden and Guzman (2006) analyze gender differences in constraints and opportunities for African women and men entrepreneurs and conclude that some constraints tend to be more closely associated with women entrepreneurs. This is the case of corruption which is identified as a major or very severe constraint by 125 female owned enterprises somewhat more frequently than by male owned enterprises. The reverse is true in the case of labour regulations. Despite these differences in gender perceptions about severity of obstacles in entrepreneurship, there is no clearly discernible gender distinct pattern in either the nature of constraints or the country in which the entrepreneur operates. Evidence shows that business networks are gender-segregated, which may influence their relative business success (Fischer 1982; Wellman 1985). Men may have access to a broader network than women. Also, women may rely more heavily on strong ties, while men utilize weak business ties (Aldrich 1989). In the current paper, the objective is to understand the nature of social capital acquisition in entrepreneurship. In fact, the following questions will guide the study: What is the gender element in social capital acquisition in Cameroon? More specifically: are there differences in terms of male and female migrants and non-migrant entrepreneurs? What factors would explain these differences? This study therefore sets out to...


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