Entrepreneurship and development as freedom, the case of women in rural Nepal

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


It is widely recognised that top-down, donor conditionality-driven and outside-expert-led initiatives that characterised early approaches to poverty alleviation among the world's 'bottom billion' have largely failed. A new generation of development strategies, focused on entrepreneurship and small business ownership, are increasingly used to alleviate persistent poverty. This study explores the potential for entrepreneurship to act as a real and appropriate opportunity among rural Nepali women. Using the Capability Approach (CA) to define poverty and development, the thesis presents entrepreneurship as an opportunity that enables individuals to actively shape their lives and the lives of others to realise aspirations.This research study is exploratory and adopts a qualitative research approach, drawing data from the remote Rapti Zone in Mid-West Nepal. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine established women entrepreneurs and seven nascent women entrepreneurs involved with an entrepreneurship enabling organisation. These were complemented by data drawn from eight local experts and a village hall meeting with 26 participants. This data collection strategy enabled the study to present a contextualised understanding of female entrepreneuring within a remote and impoverished community.The results of the study contribute to ongoing debates regarding the relationship between entrepreneurship, capabilities and poverty as capability deprivation. The study contributes to a better understanding of the emancipatory impacts of entrepreneurship; highlights the significance of context on entrepreneurial opportunity and the transformative value of entrepreneurship enabling organisations; and presents evidence to suggest that entrepreneurship (as a new opportunity) enables a departure from pre-existing constraints through the extension of gender roles. Finally, the study indicates that, through collective agency, entrepreneurship has the potential to indirectly emancipate other women and girls within their context, contributing to a true departure from the intellectual, psychological, economic, social, institutional or cultural constraints that have, over the years, inhibited the actions of Nepali women.
Date of Award1 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorSara Carter (Supervisor) & Kevin D O'Gorman (Supervisor)

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