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Profile of Women Entrepreneurs in a War-Torn Area: Case Study of Northeast Sri Lanka
Vol. Volume 11, Number 1 March/2006

Selvamalar Ayadurai and M. Sadiq Sohail
This study examines the demographic profile of ‘Tamil’ women entrepreneurs in the NorthEast of Sri Lanka who became entrepreneurs as a result of war. Five main areas of interest was examined, namely, i) characteristics of these women entrepreneurs; ii) factors that spurred them into entrepreneurship; iii) their challenges; iv) their measures of success; and v) the demographic profile of these women entrepreneurs. Findings indicate that a large percentage of these women were highly entrepreneurial who were motivated into entrepreneurship to get a better life, be self-reliant and support their families. Many of them went into business only after having lost their husbands at war. Most of these women were married with children and business was seen as a means to an end. These women were educated with a minimum secondary-level education and were involved in businesses such as livestock farming, office services and craft / textile which did not require a high capital outlay and expert skills and knowledge of the business. A large majority of these women were in business for the first time and most of them rated their businesses as successful ventures. Their measures of success were self-fulfillment, and a balance between family and work. The findings of this research are important for several reasons. The women entrepreneurs of the NorthEast are seen as a powerful driving force for the economic development of the country. However, they lack basic training and development programmes which will be able to transform them into skilful and expert entrepreneurs. Presently, they initiate entrepreneurial ventures based on their own expertise, advise from friends and family, and some aid from their local NGO. INGOs, Donor Agencies and UN Agencies can play a critical role in the upliftment of the socio-economic status of this group of women entrepreneurs.

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