Keywords: Microfinance; women entrepreneurs; women enterprises; enterprise performance.
BACKGROUND Women entrepreneurship plays a critical role in the economic development of societies.
Women entrepreneurs often feel that they are victims of discrimination.
One of the most interesting issues with regard to women entrepreneurship is the different ways women are discriminated against in concealed ways (Orhan, 1999).
Furthermore, in many African countries, women have fewer inheritance rights either by law or obstacles preventing women from realizing their economic potential as well as constraining economic development (Ong, 2008).
Growth-oriented donors have promoted investment strategies in Africa that typically exclude women, due to the commonly held view that those women enterprises that are concentrated in dynamic sub-sectors have little potential for contributing to the growth of the economy (Downing and Daniels, 1992).It is however still unclear the effect these funds have had on the women owned enterprises.Little information is available on this front partly owing to the fact that most of the women based enterprises fall within the informal sector.It is widely acknowledged that African women have access to fewer resources than men.For example, relative to men, they tend to have lower access to land, credit facilities, education and training facilities (Katepa-Kalala, 1999).It is therefore difficult to make meaningful analysis on the relationship between micro financing and performance of these enterprises for future projections and decision making.This paper seeks to fill this gap by reviewing extant literature on this topic.The argument is further supported by Marlow (1997), who commented that discrimination remains a problem for women in self-employment, for example, they experience particular difficulties in gaining bank finance for their ventures.Challenges to women entrepreneurs cover a wide spectrum, including level of education, inter-role conflicts emanating from greater parenting responsibilities, a dearth of financial assistance and socio-cultural constraints (Ghosh and Cheruvalath, 2007).Micro finance means building permanent local institutions.Micro finance also means integrating the financial needs of poor people into a country's mainstream financial system.