A Holistic and Integrated Framework to Examine Formal Women Business Networks (FWBNs)


  • Deborah Ajumobi University of Cape Town
  • Michael Kyobe University of Cape Town




Women entrepreneurs, Business networks, Women networks, Formal women networks, Technology, Network theory


Research about women entrepreneurs is not new. In addition to the body of work on women entrepreneurship, networks and businesses, several resources, assistance, and support have been provided through various channels to assist women in their business and entrepreneurial pursuits. Although, research in these areas is popular, there is an aspect that has not gained as much attention – formal women business networks (FWBNs). FWBNs are networks that run like organisations and provide a way for women to network and pursue shared interests while gaining business benefits. These networks provide benefits such as funding, trainings, access to business resource, and are funded by various organisations as well as patronized by several women seeking the benefits they provide. Hence, there is a high expectation on these networks to not only deliver on the very much needed support for women entrepreneurs, but also, to deliver on the ROI to groups, organizations, bodies, and women that give to these networks. Furthermore, recent environmental/external influences like a pandemic have impacted the way entrepreneurs do business and increased the need for support and networks. Thus, it is important that FWBNs that serve to help women businesses be examined more closely and holistically. While literature provides some evidence of the importance of FWBNs, there is limited research about these FWBNs. This could be due to the limited number of frameworks, models or theories that holistically examines all the various possible elements in these networks, as well as the relationships between them. Therefore, a holistic and integrated framework that draws from existing frameworks and provides a lens to measure and explore all possible elements that impact a FWBN, can help provide better insights and understanding in several aspects. This paper is an attempt to provide a holistic and integrated framework that draws from different theories and literature concepts to examine the nature of FWBNs and how they contribute to the success of women entrepreneurs

Author Biography

Michael Kyobe, University of Cape Town

Professor in Information Systems Department