Rural businesswomen thrive

The majority of businesswomen in the provinces are local residents, of medium to low education, who turned to enterprise to spice up their daily life and boost their household income, according to a study by Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University. Some 80 percent of provincial businesswomen are middle-aged primary school graduates who do not speak foreign languages and are not computer literate, according to the study which analyzed a sample of 516 women in Kilkis, Pella, Serres, Halkidiki and Samothrace. The rest of the businesswomen were either wives of local men, who moved to the region, or single women who moved to the countryside from cities to start their own business. The enterprises run by women in agricultural areas are largely aimed at serving the local community or the tourist sector, the study found. «Businesses run by women in the countryside may not always be viable and competitive in strictly economic terms,» said Olga Iakovou, a professor of agricultural development at the university who led the study. «Nevertheless these businesses play an important role as they consolidate the local community and contribute to growth in the area,» she added. Usually these women run small businesses with a low turnover, relatively small adaptability to the market and a small income, Iakovou said. But she stressed that this was to be expected in view of the women’s dual role as homemaker and entrepreneur. According to the study, most of the women do not establish their businesses on the basis of any professional advice, as such services are few and far between in agricultural areas. Also, they rarely take advantage of state-subsidized business programs as these demand an injection of capital, which they do not have. «Most of these women regard their enterprise as an outlet rather than a business,» Iakovou observed.