Chapter 7 Management in small firms run by women: a case study of handicraft exporters
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Entrepreneurial initiatives imply permanent challenges for individuals involved in the business decision-making process, in developed or developing countries, and even under growth economics contexts. In developing countries, additional pressure is exercised by external market demand whenever small firms export their products, given the harder competition conditions, which can become even more challenging for small firms as well as for those run by women. The present study explores the main features of the entrepreneurial behavior of those women succeeding in exporting their handicrafts produced in microenterprises. For craft exporting, logistics and managing information become obstructive issues, usually overcome by large-scale firms with a market track record, although it is observed that some small firms also persist in these markets. In developing countries with a high rate of women’s participation in microenterprises, it is interesting to learn of their success factors when exporting their crafts. The main objective in this case study is to explore those managerial abilities and strategies implemented by women running their own small firms to overcome various challenges and sell their products abroad. A qualitative and life history approach is followed to learn about their business activity. Close family participation at different stages of the production and sales processes as well as the women’s previous experience and current connections with large trading organizations emerge as the main determinants for reducing overall costs, selling abroad, and becoming sustainable in the market. Based upon case studies in Lima, Peru, we analyze the entrepreneurial behavior of these women from the first stages of their craft firms when starting production, to their management activity and diverse strategies to sell their handicrafts abroad, as well as their personal expectations.

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