Book Review- "Women's Entrepreneurship in North Africa"

i Michael Akerib  |   3 mins read January 3, 2022 | 281 eye icon

“Women's Entrepreneurship in North Africa”  is edited by Leo-Paul Dana, Dina Modestus Nziku, Ramo Palalic and Veland Ramadani.

The editors and the authors of the various chapters of this book are all seasoned academics, travelers and writers. The book covers the history of women entrepreneurs in North Africa, some of whom have succeeded in difficult circumstances. It is an investigative piece of work in a highly neglected area. “Women's Entrepreneurship in North Africa” is a rare book on the topic it covers and shows us the courage and resilience of women in a highly patriarchal society.

Their selection of North Africa arises from both the origin of one of the editors and because the area generates a third of Africa's GDP. Another important motivation is that Algeria has the world's highest rate of entrepreneurship, with women being the most common entrepreneur. 

The book also covers, in a detailed manner, and with mind boggling statistics, the situation of women entrepreneurs in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Sudan, together with industry information and the limitations, mainly cultural, that women face in some industries, such as tourism or transport.

The example of the production of Argan oil, so-called liquid gold, by Amazigh women in Morocco is an in-depth analysis of this success story. This expensive product, a nut collected and hand ground by women, is reputed for its cosmetic and medicinal qualities. The book illustrates the production and the pictures describe the artisanal process.

The first cooperative was created in 1996 and at the beginning, only divorced or single women joined, as they did not face restrictions from their husbands. However, as the cooperative started making profits, more women joined with the permission, and even, encouragement of their husbands. 

Several foreign organizations, such as the European Union, GTZ and Oxfam supported the cooperatives and those that were created based on this model. By 2019, there were 540 cooperatives, most of which were members of associations, and the associations were members of a national association. Two cooperatives have fair trade certification.

While generally, the women working in the cooperatives had higher self-esteem, some complained about their treatment in the cooperative. The difference came from the style of the managers running the cooperative.

The last chapter looks at the future. It talks about the role of the environment that imposes several limiting constraints. It suggests governments create spaces for women to express their needs and aspirations. It highlights the importance of skills that could be improved through training programs.

The book deserves our attention. The authors have extensively researched the success of these women entrepreneurs and offer a comprehensive view of their work and the national systems within which they operate.

The narratives build up a story largely unknown outside North Africa and can be read either as an elaborate piece of research or as a testament to the women who are discussed and their impact on the economy and the societal structure.

Both men and women should read “Women's Entrepreneurship in North Africa” as an example of how determined entrepreneurs succeed in some of the world's most hostile conditions.

Prof. Michael Akerib
Head of Academic and Strategic Development
Westford Education Group

Prof. Michael Akerib divides his professional life between industry, executive education and academia. He has worked for leading corporations (Dow Chemical, Merrill Lynch, COMILOG) in Africa, France and Switzerland.  He was the CEO of a South American gold and diamond mining corporation in the early 1990s. 

Since 1991, he has been involved in executive education and academia in over 20 countries. He has created curricula, franchised educational programs he created, was Dean, Managing Director of business schools and rector. 

He has published a number of articles on demography, energy and Russia.

Prof Akerib considers himself a global citizen – born in the Near East of grand-parents of four different nationalities, grown up in South America, studied in Britain. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, a Master’s degree in Biochemistry of Nutrition, an MBA, an Mphil in Industrial History and Geography and a PhD in Social Sciences. 

His favourite pastime  is writing surrealist short stories.

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