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Indigenous social capital in women led small businesses in rural Zimbabwe

CO Miruka
P Zonge


By taking into account gender differences through which social capital is formed and operates, the article is based on the study that examines how indigenous social capital influences and impacts on women led businesses in rural Zimbabwe. It revealed that in indigenous settings, the notion of social capital is a gendered concept with critical implications on women led businesses in rural Zimbabwe. The study recognized social capital as generated and expressed through indigenous knowledge and values, network and associational life and hence indigenous knowledge. It acknowledged that social capital does take gender differentiated forms while exerting gender specific expectations on the network participation of men and women. In exploring the outcomes of social capital for the women led businesses, the study looked into the ways that gender ideologies run through, are reinforced and perpetuated through social network activity and supported through circumscribed indigenous knowledge. The emphasis made in this study on social capital does not downplay the importance of other factors like human, financial, physical and natural capital on women owned rural small businesses. Social capital is in fact seen as an essential compliment to these factors. The advantage of addressing the subject of women led rural based businesses from a social capital perspective largely stems from the ability of social capital to account for indigenous knowledge in development discourse.

Keywords: Social capital, women led small businesses, rural development, Zimbabwe.