"WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS”: EMPOWERING WOMEN AND THEIR ENTREPRENEURSHIP INITIATIVES IN MARGINAL URBAN AREAS OF GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR - AN ACTION RESEARCH CASE STUDY
ESPOL Polytechnic University (ECUADOR)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 11-13 March, 2019
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report of 2017, Ecuador had one of the highest index of Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) in the Latin American and Caribbean region. In fact, TEA for women was 52.1% and 47.9% for men. Moreover, the proportion of women with new and necessity-motivated entrepreneurships was higher than the one of men. On the contrary, men had a greater rate of opportunity-motivated entrepreneurships. Concurrently, the Ecuadorian government plan “Toda una vida” [A lifetime] pursues serving the entire life cycle of the people from health to housing and from women’s advancement to elderly care. Therefore, the “Women Entrepreneurs” community linked project between ESPOL Polytechnic University in Guayaquil and Children International emerged as a solution for unemployment, gender pay gap and scarce opportunities for accessing a decent standard of living. Within this context, in compliance of article 78 of the Council of Higher Education related to the completion of community service hours by undergraduate students, ESPOL Polytechnic University became an active agent of change. The “Women Entrepreneurs” project supervision comprised an academic tutor, the director of the project and the Center of Social Development (CEDESA, acronym in Spanish) of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities (FSCH, acronym in Spanish). Hence, the aim of this qualitative action research case study was to empower 31 volunteer women of Children International and boost their entrepreneurship initiatives in marginal urban areas of Guayaquil. For this purpose, the project supervisors united the diverse enterprise initiatives according to related areas to guarantee that the 17 undergraduate students of Economics and Business Administration careers of FCSH enrolled in the project could work with the 31 women. Hence, the undergraduate students applied their acquired knowledge in the preparation and teaching of three modules: Market Research, Technical-Operational and Organizational Research and Tax-Finance Research. The training sessions consisted of direct instruction with material adapted by the undergraduate students to suit the women’s needs as well as participant-centered activities to assure acquisition of the planned content. In addition, relevant data of this action research project included official forms, student work manuals, students’ weekly reports of the modules, students’ fieldwork reports, surveys, observations and videos. Findings include the empowerment of 31 women entrepreneurs, the presentation of 17 business plans, the completion of 160 internship hours in community-linked projects for each undergraduate student, and the cooperation between a public higher education institution and a non-profit organization. Finally, relevant underpinnings of this action research study are the professional and personal growth of 17 undergraduate students who had the enriching opportunity of sharing their knowledge with 31 women.
Keywords: women entrepreneurs, community linked projects, undergraduate students, women empowerment, higher education institutions.