Transitioning into the Formal - Women Entrepreneurs in the Informal Economy of Nepal

This project explores the extent to which women entrepreneurs in the informal economy in Nepal make the transition into the formal economy, focusing on the interaction of contextual factors (institutional, socio-spatial, and enterprise sector dynamics) and their personal characteristics.

Whilst the informal economy is prevalent in most developing countries, women are over-represented in it due to existing and enduring gender disparities. It is important to consider women as a heterogenous group whose involvement in the formal and informal economic sectors may differ along several socio-spatial dimensions, especially as there is limited data to explain why informal female entrepreneurs engage with or make the transition to the formal sector. As a result, this project will undertake a qualitative study of women informal entrepreneurs to provide nuance to and understanding of the experiences of different groups of Nepali female entrepreneurs.

Using semi-structured interviews, the project team aims to gain insight into the regulatory and social contextual conditions that affect the nature and extent of female entrepreneurship in the informal economy and to add to the growing body of knowledge on the circumstances that lead female entrepreneurs to formalization. By understanding the perspective of female entrepreneurs regarding formalization and financial sustainability, the team will be able to provide specific policy recommendations to encourage involvement in formal entrepreneurship.

As this is a relatively understudied area, the results could promote more creativity in policy design regarding female entrepreneurial behaviour, and could illuminate the linkages between informal entrepreneurship under different contextual conditions and the transition to the formal sector. 


Mirela Xheneti

University of Sussex

Shova Thapa Karki

University of Sussex