Exporting is commonly regarded as one of the main drivers of firm
growth. Competing in international markets is often associated with
higher levels of productivity and better business practices.
Consequently, understanding how to support the development of businesses
so that they are able to access and be competitive in export markets is
a policy priority for stimulating private sector–led growth. The trade
literature highlights barriers to entry for exporting, requiring that
firms reach a certain size and quality to compete in foreign markets.
These constraints may be particularly binding for female-owned
businesses, which are often younger and smaller than their male-owned
competitors. The available evidence shows that female-owned businesses
tend to be in sectors with low barriers to entry, have limited potential
to grow and cater to foreign markets, and face constraints in accessing
the factors of production that would allow them to reach sectors with
export potential (Hallward-Driemeier 2011). In developing countries,
most of the analysis on constraints to the growth of women-owned
enterprises has been focused on microenterprises, where female-owned
businesses tend to be concentrated or,alternatively, on regional
comparisons using small within-country samples.
This chapter uses data from the 2012 survey of businesses that employ up
to 25 workers in the Kwazulu-Natal Province (KZN) of South Africa. This
dataset of more than 2,400 businesses comes from the baseline survey of
an impact evaluation on increasing the market access of emerging SMEs.
We use these data to identify the determinants of firms’ propensity to
export and determine if these vary according to the gender of the
business owner. Then, given the importance of gender in explaining
exporting, we explore the determinants of firm size and differences in
these between male and female owned businesses.
Bossuroy, T.; Campos, F.; Coville, A.; Goldstein, M.; Roberts, G.; Sequeira, S. Shape up and ship out: Gender constraints to exporting in South Africa. The World Bank, Washington DC, USA (2013) 166 pp. [Women and Trade in Africa: Realizing the Potential]
Shape up and ship out: Gender constraints to exporting in South Africa