Mary Johnson Osirim investigates the business and personal experiences of women entrepreneurs in Harare and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, to understand their successes, challenges, and contributions to development. These businesswomen work in the microenterprise sector—which is defined as businesses that employ five workers or fewer—with many working as market traders, crocheters, seamstresses, and hairdressers. The women who took part in Osirim's research during the 1990s pursued their businesses, reinvested profits, engaged in innovation, and provided employment, and through their work supported households and extended family and social networks. Osirim finds that, despite major problems, the Zimbabwean businesswomen maintained their enterprises and their households and managed to contribute in significant ways to their community and national development in the face of an economic structural adjustment program. Osirim also explores the impact of state and non-governmental organizations on small business operations. Enterprising Women in Urban Zimbabwe offers a comprehensive study of women's role as entrepreneurs in the microeconomic sector that shows them as agents during challenging political and economic times.
Published in association with the Woodrow Wilson Center Press