Towards a gender-aware entrepreneurial ecosystem for women’s entrepreneurship: A study of Kazakhstan’s and Kyrgyzstan’s community-based tourism sector

  • Yousafzai, Shumaila (PI)
  • Nurbayeva, Alua (Other Faculty/Researcher)
  • Lipovka, Anastasia (Other Faculty/Researcher)
  • Almukhanov, Batyrkhan (MBA student)
  • Sheikh, Shandana (Postdoctoral scholar (PhD degree holder))
  • Kaztaev , Ablay (MBA student)

Project: Monitored by Research Administration

Project Details

Grant Program

Faculty Development Competitive Research Grants Program 2022-2024

Project Description

The objective of this project is to conduct a study of women’s entrepreneurship in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan within their EES to understand how women enact entrepreneurship in their contexts (Community Based Tourism: CBT sector), the challenges they face, and the strategies they employ to overcome these challenges to sustain their entrepreneurial ventures. Accordingly, the aim is to develop a contextual understanding of WE in an ongoing system of social relationships and social structures, which by nature are gendered and affect women in ways that differ from how they affect men. In the unique post-socialist context of former Soviet states, where the collapse of the social and health systems and the transformation to market-based economies has led to rising unemployment of women, losing most of the social security that was ensured under socialism, and growing labour market discrimination, WE can play a critical role in not only reducing women’s unemployment but also enhancing socio-economic development. Acknowledging that entrepreneurial activity is embedded in a society’s social and institutional structures, this study draws on Isenberg’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Framework and Bourdieu’s (2005) Theory of Embodied Practice (TEP) and adopts a practice-oriented perspective to show how women do entrepreneurship in their EES, given the complex interplay of socially constructed macro, micro, and meso level factors. This theoretical stance facilitates our understanding of entrepreneurship as a combination of economic and social acts and requires moving beyond an isolated approach of studying women as entrepreneurs [26, 27]. In doing so, it contributes to our understanding of the motivations of female entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial activity under transition conditions. By applying the EES framework and researching the comparative nature of WE in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in the community-based tourism (CBT) sector, the study will explore the lived experiences of female entrepreneurs in their daily entrepreneurial lives and as embedded in their EES. It will discuss how interactions between the EES and female entrepreneurs enable or inhibit the extent and nature of their entrepreneurial activity. Specifically, this study has four main research questions related to female Kazakh and Kyrgyz entrepreneurs who operate in CBT sector:
RQ1: Why does a woman choose to become entrepreneurs in the CBT sector (motivation) and how she is positioned in her respective EES (field)?
RQ2: To what extent does a woman’s perceived position of power in her EES (field) affect her entrepreneurial performance (habitus) and does she adapt her ambitions and entrepreneurial activities to this position?
RQ3: What is a woman’s capital in becoming an entrepreneur? Does it have significance in the progress of her CBT enterprise?
RQ4: This overarching research question will examine the extent (in terms of RQ1, RQ2, and RQ3) to which the post-socialist context is exemplified in the distinguishing patterns of women’s entrepreneurial behaviour and the comparative differences between the two CBT’s EES of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
This study seeks to determine whether there is support for entrepreneurship being a gendered and socially constructed phenomenon [10, 20] and whether female entrepreneurs who operate in a resource-constrained environment with low financial, cultural, and institutional capital face distinct barriers from their EES. The low initial start-up capital of female entrepreneurs and their disposition to interact with their EES in line with cultural expectations that challenge their legitimacy as entrepreneurs, yet they are able to sustain their businesses with the support of their social and human capital.
Short titleA gender-aware entrepreneurial ecosystem for women’s entrepreneurship
Effective start/end date1/1/2212/31/24


  • entrepreneurial ecosystem
  • women’s entrepreneurship
  • community-based tourism
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan


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