Entrepreneurship has been pointed out as a contributing factor leading to increased job creation, sustained economic development and, ultimately, economic growth. However, many young businesses struggle to survive the first three years, subsequently jeopardising the full potential they may have in terms of contributing to the economy. The literature suggests that motivational factors may play a contributing role in business sustainability and that the reason people decide to start or remain in business might play a part in the survival of a business. The purpose of this study was to determine which motivational factors female entrepreneurs deem most important and whether these factors differ between young and more established entrepreneurs in the South African context. The study made use of primary data obtained through self-administered questionnaires. A convenience sampling technique was used, resulting in a final sample of 515 female owners of small to medium-sized business in South Africa. Various statistical techniques were employed to analyse the data including internal-consistency reliability, descriptive statistics, factor analysis and an independent sample t-test. Results indicated that one’s contribution to others and independence as motivational factors yielded the highest means, followed by self-fulfilment and having high status in the community. Furthermore, a statistically significant difference between entrepreneurs with less than three years of experience and those with more than three years of experience was only observed for motivation derived from self-fulfilment. In more established businesses, the entrepreneurs had greater motivation to focus on self-fulfilment aspects. The study showed that South African female entrepreneurs could be considered more socially motivated and less profit-driven, which is also supported by the literature to an extent.
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Natanya Meyer is an associate professor in the Department of Business Management in the College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg. She is part of the DHET-NRF SARChI Entrepreneurship Education Chair. Her research focuses on entrepreneurial and economic-related topics. She is a editor, editorial board and scientific committee member as well as a reviewer for several national and international journals.
Niël Krüger, PhD in a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. His research interests include risk management, small business development, and entrepreneurship.