Language and market inclusivity for women entrepreneurship: the case of microfinance

Israel Drori*, Ronny Manos, Estefania Santacreu-Vasut, Oded Shenkar, Amir Shoham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Inclusive markets are key to fostering female entrepreneurship, and the microfinance sector has recognized and acted on this. Existing research has studied how institutions and organizational factors facilitate the process by which microfinance and other financial intermediaries tackle gender-based financial exclusion. But while the role of cultural institutions has been recognized as important, little research has systematically integrated culture in the study of gender-based financial exclusion. We posit that language is a cultural institution that influences the extent to which financial intermediaries are successful in outreaching women and supporting female entrepreneurship. Inspired by a performativity approach, we develop a set of hypotheses that delineate how a specific feature of language, gender marking in grammar, moderates the role of institutional (state capacity) and organizational (NGO status and global ties) factors in shaping microfinance outreach to women. Using the ratio of female to male borrowers in 2361 microfinance organizations from 115 countries during the period 1995–2015, we confirm that market inclusion of women depends on organizational and institutional factors, and that gender marking in grammar influences those relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-415
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number4
Early online date14 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


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