Socio-spatial Differences and Business Formalization – The Case of Nepalese Women Entrepreneurs

Conference Paper
Published on 1 August 2018

Conference paper available here.


The aim of this paper is to explain women’s transitions to the formal economy by exploring the diverse socio-spatial contexts of their entrepreneurial activities. Karki and Xheneti (2018) problematize the focus of most formalization literature on both the regulatory aspects of formalization choices (and the respective policies) and on the motivations of women, and in turn provide a more nuanced account that appreciates the gendered nature of entrepreneurial activities and spaces. Empirically, the authors draw on a qualitative study of 90 women engaged in entrepreneurial activities in three contrasting regions in Nepal - Kathmandu, Pokhara and Biratnagar. Their findings support a dynamic view of formalization that considers it as a process sensitive to the interactions within women’s unique socio-spatial contexts. More specifically, they explore how differences in levels of urbanization, social cohesion, as well as politicization, explain some of the variation they observe in formalization choices. The authors contribute towards discussions of the contextual embeddedness of women’s entrepreneurial activities and, most importantly the need to incorporate spatiality more fully into these accounts. As such, their study provides support for more relational accounts of formalization. A number of important implications for policy are proposed.


Mirela Xheneti

University of Sussex

Shova Thapa Karki

University of Sussex