Journal of Economics and Business

ISSN 2615-3726 (Online)

ISSN 2621-5667 (Print)

Published: 08 August 2019

Gender Gap in SME Ownership: Are Women Left Behind? Evidence from Sri Lanka

N.P. Ravindra Deyshappriya

Uva Wellassa University, Sri Lanka

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Pages: 749-760

Keywords: Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Women Labour Force Participation, Gender Gap, Business Development Service (BDS), Enterprise Survey


The current study examines the gender gap in SME ownership and socio-economic factors which lead women to start Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Sri Lanka. The study conducted enterprise survey with 329 SME owners and also household survey which focused on 400 unemployed women in Uva and Central Provinces of Sri Lanka. The study found that there is a significant gender gap in ownership of SMEs across four districts in both provinces and this trend is more pronounced in the Nuwara Eliya district where only 20% of SMEs are owned by women. However, the gender gap in SME ownership is comparatively low in both the Monaragala and Badulla districts where 48.1% and 41.7% of SMEs are run by females. The econometric analysis reveal that factors such as marital status, age, number of children, having primary education, attached to a family with business background, easy access to Business Development Service (BDS) and owning required capital assets motivate womens’ to start SMEs. Hence, the study recommends to expand the facilities related to BDS while providing capital requirements to get women involved with SMEs more efficiently.


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