Heading households and heading businesses: Rural Kenyan women in the informal sector

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Washington, DC: Association of American Geographers


This paper is based on a study in 35 markets in one district in Kenya. The study used both quantities and qualitative methods, and even though it was a small sample (352 women interviewed) it showed statistically significant results. This paper examines women's resources to create and maintain small-scale businesses. Women in rural Kenya are responsible for their families survival needs. In order to provide for their families, women turn to small businesses in rural markets. Many of Kenyan rural women are heads of their households, and completely dependent on their businesses to provide for their families. These women also have fewer resources to invest in their businesses compared to those who live in a male headed household who receive remittances, have greater access to farm land, therefore more possibilities to invest in their businesses.


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Women, Markets, Women-headed households, Informal sector, Intra-household economics, Kenya, Small-scale businesses, Methodology


Professional Geographer 50(2): 192-204