Disadvantaged? Informal Female Entrepreneurs Operating “Tienditas” in Nicaragua

Michael J. Pisani


I explore the business and (household) income outcomes of base of the pyramid (BoP) in-home convenience store entrepreneurs through a census-like business survey in Nicaragua. Throughout Latin America and in Nicaragua, tienditas are typically operated by female entrepreneurs in an informal regulatory environment out of the home and at the periphery of developing economies. Some authors have characterized this sector as disadvantaged because of its inherent reliance on female ownership, on a home-based location, and on operating within an informal context (Nichter and Goldmark, 2009). Others have argued that such enterprises may serve as a link toward poverty reduction at the BoP (Pisani and Yoskowitz, 2012). Utilizing a 2012 cross-sectional and nationally representative business focused survey, 400 Nicaraguan tenderas are examined. Findings indicate heterogeneity exists across the tiendita retail sector; where failing, ailing, stable and healthy tienditas are segmented, analyzed, and discussed.


Informality; Female Entrepreneurship; Tienditas; Nicaragua

Full Text:



Achua, C. F., and Lussier, R. N. (2014). “Entrepreneurial Drive and the Informal Economy in Cameroon”. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 19, 1-12.

Adom, K. (2015). “Recognizing the Contribution of Female Entrepreneurs in Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Some Evidence from Ghana”. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 20, 1-24.

Banco Central de Nicaragua (2015). “Estado de la Economía y Perspectivas 2016” [State of the Economy and 2016 Outlook]. Available in: .

Banco Central de Nicaragua (2013). “Nicaragua en Cifras – 2012” [Nicaragua in Figures]. Available in: .

Berner, E., Gomez, G. and Knorringa, P. (2012). “‘Helping a Large Number of People Become a Little Less Poor’: The Logic of Survival Entrepreneurs”. European Journal of Development Research, 24, 382-396.

Blanchflower, D. G., and Oswald, A. J. (1998). “What Makes an Entrepreneur?”. Journal of Labor Economics, 16, 26-60.

Calderon, G., Iacovone, L., and Juarez, L. (2016). “Opportunity versus Necessity: Understanding the Heterogeneity of Female Micro-Entrepreneurs”. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7636.

Deloitte (2016). “International Tax: Nicaragua Highlights 2016”. Available in: .

De Mel, S., McKenzie, D. J., and Woodruff, C. (2009). “Measuring Microenterprise Profits: Must We Ask How the Sausage Is Made?”. Journal of Development Economics, 88, 19–31.

Demirguc-Kunt, A., Klapper, L., Singer, D., and Van Oudheusden, P. (2015). “The Global Findex Database 2014: Measuring Financial Inclusion around the World”. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7255.

D’Haese, M., Van de Berg, M., and Speelman, S. (2008). “A Country-wide Study of Consumer Choice for an Emerging Supermarket Sector: A Case Study of Nicaragua”. Development Policy Review, 26, 603-615.

FIDEG (2013). “Encuesta de Hogares para Medir la Pobreza en Nicaragua: Informe de Resultados 2012” [Household Survey to Measure Poverty in Nicaragua: Results Report 2012]. Fundacíon Internacional para el Desafío Económico Global. Nicaragua: FIDEG. Available in: .

Funkhouser, E. (1996). “The Urban Informal Sector in Central America: Household Survey Evidence”. World Development, 24, 1731-1751.

Gindling, T. H., and Newhouse, D. (2012). “Self-employment in the Developing World”. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 6201.

Grimm, M., Knorringa, P., and Lay, J. (2012). “Constrained Gazelles: High Potentials in West Africa’s Informal Economy”. World Development, 40, 1352-1368.

Gurtoo, A., and Williams, C. C. (2009). “Entrepreneurship and the Informal Sector”. Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 10, 55-62.

Haase, D. (2007). “Closing the Gender Gap”. ESR Review, 9, 4-9.

Hart, K. (1970). “Small Scale Entrepreneurs in Ghana and Development Planning”. Journal of Development Planning, 6, 104–120.

Hart, K. (1973). “Informal Income Opportunities and Urban Employment in Ghana”. Journal of Modern African Studies, 11, 61–89.

Itzigsohn, J. (2000). Developing Poverty: The State, Labor Market Deregulation, and the Informal Economy in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

IMF [International Monetary Fund] (2013). “Nicaragua: Staff Report for the 2013 Article IV Consultation – Debt Sustainability Analysis, November 14”. Available in: .

Jain, A., and Pisani, M. J. (2008). “Small and Microenterprise Business Development in Costa Rica: An Examination of Domestic and Foreign Born Entrepreneurs”. Latin American Business Review, 9, 149-167.

Kampwirth, K. (2012). The Feminist Movement. In Close, D., I Puig, S. M. and McConnell, S. A. (Eds.), The Sandinistas and Nicaragua Since 1979 (185-214). Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Khan, T., and Khan, R. E. A. (2009). “Urban Informal Sector: How Much Women Are Struggling for Family Survival”. The Pakistan Development Review, 48, 67-95.

Kirzner, I. M. (1973). Competition and Entrepreneurship. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Margolis, D. N. (2014). “By Choice and by Necessity: Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment in the Developing World”. European Journal of Development Research, 26, 419-436.

Mead, D. C., and Liedholm, C. (1998). “The Dynamics of Micro and Small Enterprises in Developing Countries”. World Development, 26, 61-74.

Nichter, S., and Goldmark, L. (2009). “Small Firm Growth in Developing Countries”. World Development, 37, 1453-1464.

Peattie, L. (1987). “An Idea in Good Currency and How It Grew: The Informal Sector”. World Development, 15, 851-860.

Pisani, M. J. (2017). Entrepreneurship at the Base of the Pyramid: The Case of Nicaragua. In Williams, C. C. and Gurtoo, A. (Eds.), Handbook of Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies (343-355). New York, NY: Routledge.

Pisani, M. J. (2013). Informal Entrepreneurship in Central America: A Labor of Love or Survival? In Thai, M. T. T. and Turkina, E. (Eds.), Entrepreneurship in the Informal Economy: Models, Approaches and Perspectives for Economic Development (127-142). New York, NY: Routledge.

Pisani, M. J. (2010). Is Microcredit Compatible with Micro-Entrepreneurship? Evidence from Latin American Tienditas. In Munoz, J. M. (Ed.), Contemporary Microenterprise: Concepts and Cases (102-115). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Pisani, M. J. (2006). “Nicaraguan Self-Employed Women under Neoliberalism: Characteristics and Determinants”. Latin American Business Review, 7, 89-106.

Pisani, M. J., and Pagán, J. A. (2004). “Self-Employment in the Era of the New Economic Model in Latin America: A Case Study from Nicaragua”. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 16, 335-350.

Pisani, M. J., Richardson, C., and Patrick, J. M. (2008). “Economic Informality on the U.S.-Mexican Border: A (Re)View from South Texas”. Journal of Borderlands Studies, 23, 19-40.

Pisani, M. J., and Yoskowitz, D. W. (2012). “A Study of Small Neighborhood Tienditas in Central America”. Latin American Research Review, 47, 116-138.

Pisani, M. J., and Yoskowitz, D. W. (2010). “The Efficacy of Microfinance at the Sectoral Level: Urban Pulperías in Matagalpa, Nicaragua”. Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, 9, 418-448.

Prahalad, C. K. (2004). Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Richardson, C., and Pisani, M. J. (2012). The Informal and Underground Economy of the South Texas Border. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Stam, E., and van Stel, A. (2011). Types of Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth. In Szirmai, A., Naudé, W. and Goedhuys, M. (Eds.), Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Development (78-95). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Walker, T. W., and Wade, C. J. (2011). Nicaragua: Living in the Shadow of the Eagle. Fifth edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Williams, C. C. (2007). “Entrepreneurs Operating in the Informal Economy: Necessity or Opportunity Driven?”. Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 20, 309-20.

Williams, C. C. (2008). “Beyond Necessity-driven Versus Opportunity-driven Entrepreneurship: A Study of Informal Entrepreneurs in England, Russia and Ukraine”. Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 9, 157-65.

Williams, C. C., and Youssef, Y. (2013). “Evaluating the Gender Variations in Informal Sector Entrepreneurship: Some Lessons from Brazil”. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 18, 1-16.

World Bank (2016). “Nicaragua”. Available in: .

World Food Programme (2014). “Nicaragua”. Available in: .

Xavier, S. R., Kelley, D., Kew, J., Herrington, M., and Vorderwülbecke, A. (2012). “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Global Report”. Available in: .

Contador de visualizaciones:

  • Abstract : 478 vistas.
  • PDF : 198 vistas.
  • Refbacks

    • There are currently no refbacks.

    Copyright (c) 2016 Michael J. Pisani

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

    Información Legal
    Ensayos Revista de Economía, Vol. 38, No. 2, November 2019, es una publicación semestral editada por la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, a través de la Facultad de Economía con la colaboración del Centro de Investigaciones Económicas, Av. Lázaro Cárdenas 4600 Ote., Fracc. Residencial Las Torres, Monterrey, N.L. C.P. 64930. Tel. +52 (81) 8329 4150 Ext. 2463 Fax. +52 (81) 8342 2897. Editor Responsable: Edgar M. Luna, Reserva de Derechos al Uso Exclusivo No. 04-2015-091013542400-203, ISSN 2448-8402, ambos otorgados por el Instituto Nacional del Derecho de Autor. Responsable de la última actualización de este Número: M.C. Hans Y. Martinez Torres, Facultad de Economía, UANL, Av. Lázaro Cárdenas 4600 Ote., Fracc. Residencial Las Torres, Monterrey, N.L. C.P. 64930. Tel. +52 (81) 8329 4150. Fecha última de actualización 1 de noviembre de 2019.

    Las opiniones y contenidos expresados en los artículos son responsabilidad exclusiva de los autores.

     Licencia de Creative Commons

    El contenido de Ensayos Revista de Economía está registrado bajo términos de la licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento 4.0 Internacional.