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University of Amsterdam (2015)

Improving the position of women in rural Western Kenya : the impact of table banking on female entrepreneurship and household relations

Shuttleworth L.

Titre : Improving the position of women in rural Western Kenya : the impact of table banking on female entrepreneurship and household relations

Auteur : Shuttleworth L.

Université de soutenance : University of Amsterdam

Grade : International Development Studies (M.Sc.) 2015

Résumé
The debate on whether microfinance is a useful tool to foster entrepreneurship and improve the position of women in development contexts contains a number of varying and conflicting viewpoints. Different scholars hold that rural credit schemes can either have a negligible, positive or even negative impact on rural livelihoods. This thesis project aims to add to this debate by assessing how table banking – an informal microfinance scheme – impacts on female entrepreneurship and household relations in rural Western Kenya. The analysis furthermore explores how women’s relationships with their husbands in the homestead affect their income-generating activities. Based on fieldwork which was carried out over 11 weeks in Kenya, the analysis makes use of quantitative and qualitative data and combines a relational approach with the sustainable livelihoods framework. Overall, it is argued that table banking membership strengthens the capability of women to engage in economic activities by improving their access to financial, human and social capital. However, the extent to which these can be utilised to improve female livelihoods is dependent on external factors such as the local climatic, economic and social-cultural conditions. One such factor includes the nature of household relations where it is assumed that collaboration between spouses in the homestead improves women’s income-generating projects. By contrast, situations where either the husband or wife dominates the household are assumed to obstruct women in their economic activity due to a higher workload, more conflicts and – in situations of male dominance – less control over household income and decision-making procedures. It is suggested that table banking improves female entrepreneurship when an increased capital endowment leads to more collaboration in the household. However, table banking may also hinder collaboration if it enables a woman to dominate in the household or if it fosters conflict through male resistance to women going beyond their traditional domestic role.

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