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Sivakamu Veterinary Hospital Raod

Bikaner -334001 India
CONTACT : 00-91-9414430763


Conrad Walter Mascarenhas.

centre for social entrepreneurship
sivakamu veterinary hospital road
Bikaner 334001 Rajasthan, India

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Dated: 24th November, 2008


--- By Conrad Walter Mascarenhas.

Equality, Equity and Empowerment is what comes to my mind when I write my essay
on success story of small entrepreneur. What better way than to dedicate this essay to
a women from my home land --- Goa, the land of god’s gifted scenic beauty and
warm and friendly people. She has proved to the rest of the country that Goans are no
more what some perceive them to be i.e. “Susegado” --- which means “laid back and
just relaxed”. What makes my story different, unlike the rest that speak on male
dominated entrepreneurship is that this one’s about a women entrepreneur. Here is a
story about a woman that has made use of Tourism to showcase her entrepreneurship
skills to all that thought women are looked at as ones restricted to household duties
and mere office goers. I take this opportunity to introduce one such success story of a
true woman of substance. This is the story of a goan woman --- Ms Geraldine
Fernandes, a local entrepreneur who runs a small guesthouse in Benaulim, Goa, a
village situated along the coast of Goa in the district of Salcette, south Goa to be
precise. The village has a population of a little over 5000 people. She is originally
from northern Goa and arrived in Benaulim in 1993. Being a creative and independent
person by nature, and having had the experience of running a pharmacy and
restaurant, she decided to start a guesthouse in Benaulim.

In India, women in the organized sector in tourism are relegated to relatively low skill
and low paying or stereotypical jobs like housekeeping, front-desk and reception,
catering and laundry services. They face very high risks of sexual harassment and
exploitation and are discouraged from forming unions or associations to consolidate
their strength and influence. The proportion of women’s to men’s wages is less.
Women feature significantly more in part time and/or temporary employment and are
typically paid less than men for the same work done. In the developing world 60% of
women who work (in non-agricultural work) are in the informal sector. Much of this
is linked directly and indirectly to tourism. The role of women in informal tourism
settings such as running home-stay facilities, restaurants and shacks, crafts and
handicrafts, handloom, small shops and street vending is significant. But these roles

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and activities that women perform in tourism are treated as invisible or taken for

The need to acknowledge the important economic contribution of women and ensure
for them, access to credit, capacity building and enhanced skills, access to the market,
encouragement to form unions, associations and cooperatives to increase their
bargaining power and to ensure that their safety health and social security needs are
met is critical. Community-based tourism initiatives, particular of local women’s
groups and co-operatives, are an important way by which women can control and
benefit from tourism. There are numerous examples where women and women’s
groups have started income-generating activities on their own which then feed into or
become part of the formal tourism sector. These activities help to create financial
independence for local women and motivate them to develop necessary skills and
improve their education.

“Tourism is a sector of the economy that not only employs significant numbers of
women, but provides enormous opportunities for their advancement”. At the height of
the tourist season, the number of tourists might easily match the number of Goans in
Benaulim. Tourism does indeed employ many women. But with experiences such as
those that will be unfolded in the later part of my essay, the odds against women
benefiting are extremely high. The government and other financial institutions must
go beyond a position of approbation and look at tourism’s record thus far, both in the
empowerment of women and in the exploitation of their true potential. This is
essential if there is a serious intent, as I hope there is and indeed the tourism industry
will go beyond the rhetoric of women’s empowerment, towards serious engagement
and committed action. The advancement of women and the achievement of equality
between women and men is a matter of human rights and a condition for social
justice. These are essential to build a sustainable, just, secure and developed society.

For decades now, through vibrant movements and political struggles, women have
challenged existing gender relations and patriarchal systems to reframe the
development dialogue. They have placed issues of violence, race, caste and other
forms of discrimination that hit women the hardest and the need for equality and
human rights of women - including social, economic, political, legal, sexual and
reproductive rights at the centre stage of this struggle. One should seek to solve

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critical problems with measurable targets, by adequately addressing the roots of these
problems. Tourism does provide a range of activities where women can participate
and also creates opportunities for entrepreneurship development in tourist

Before I may precede further to present my story, I must give you a background of the
way in which tourism arrived in Goa. In doing so, I am trying to make two essential
points. Firstly, it is a myth that tourism benefits local communities. The fact is quite
the opposite. We as Goans pay the costs of tourism and the real debtors in the tourism
equation are the tourists and sending countries as well as the Multinational
Corporations and big business that send tourist from the rich countries. Secondly,
Goans are not only marginalized when it comes to initiating tourism related
enterprises. Things are made close-to-impossible for them to make it a truly going
concern. There is no level playing field, in which local entrepreneurs can compete
with big business and foreign companies. Thirdly, tourists themselves see the
competition among small-scale enterprises and capitalize on the situation by driving
hard bargains which sometimes render businesses being less viable. In the 1960s, Goa
opened up tourism in a big way. The hippies arrived first with their own brand of
needs and preferences. Abandoning the materialism of their societies, they sought
refuge in spiritualism. But the ideals were soon dropped. Permissiveness - sex, drugs
and nudism - became the centre piece of the ‘hippie culture’. One could argue that it
was their business except, of course, that it happened on our shores and we had to
pick up the pieces and do the damage control. After all, that life style was a tempting
one and some of our youth bought into it. Those costs are still around and we are still
paying for them. The hippie-type tourists still haunt us in Goa and we have little
choice but to put up with them. Today’s backpackers are only a slight improvement.
They are low spenders, big bargainers, and create much social havoc by their attitudes
and standards of behaviour. The hippies went back home in the sixties and announced
Goa to everyone they knew as a cheap destination. It soon brought other categories of
tourists into Goa, including the charter tourists, inaugurating the patterns of mass
tourism. The charter tourists wanted more than the hippies, but at low cost. We
catered to them as our governments saw the dollar and smacked their lips. Little did
they know or maybe they knew and did not tell us that the ultimate benefit would
weigh in favour of the tourist, not us. We never benefited. Something like 10% of

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state income accrued from tourism. But when you minus the costs of infrastructure
expenditures in tourism areas, and add to that the social, environmental, and cultural
costs, our losses are massive. Our coasts were violated--- sand dunes cut to make it
easy for the tourists to get an unobstructed view, coastal vegetation destroyed just to
make the view better for the tourists, traditional communities (farmers and fisher
folks) displaced to make way for tourism enterprises, and ‘common land was
privatized. Beaches I played on when I was a child are now the private property of
hotels and resorts. I had the opportunity to meet her once personally, courtesy of my
management studies. When she decided to launch her small tourism business – a guest
house with 8 rooms and three penthouses, she says that she was deceived by what she
saw around her. As I recall, she first sees how huge the concessions were to the 5-star
hotels- whether of Indian or foreign origin. They were not only given land on rates
massively less than the normal market rates, they were also given easy access to credit
and at comfortable terms. Access roads, electricity, water supplies and waste
management were all made easy for them. On the contrary, small entrepreneurs had to
cope with virtually impossible travails when starting up a business in Goa. Her story
perhaps illustrates how the system works against the small entrepreneur and weighs
heavily in favour of big business. She told me, as a child she was encouraged by the
thought that commercial banks were under obligation to support small scale
entrepreneurs, especially women. It was only later that she realized and learned that
much of this was mere rhetoric. All she needed was a loan amounting to Rs. 7 lakhs.
The commercial banks had turned her request down, claiming they do not support
tourism-related commercial ventures. They were of the opinion that tourism was a
vulnerable industry and its seasonal character did not make granting loans viable.

This incident left her questioning, whether tourism has in fact opened doors for
women? She finally got a loan from an unwilling Board of Directors. However,
although she had calculated that she would earn Rs. 300/- from her rooms and
Rs.500/- from the penthouse on a daily basis during the high season, the facts were
different. Tourists are told in all guidebooks that when one arrives in Goa one must
“Bargain- Bargain-Bargain”. And so they do the same actually. She often gave her
rooms at Rs. 150/- simply because if I didn’t, her competitor will take her business.
To cut a long story short, the financial projections on the basis of which she secured
her loan and the reality she had to contend with were very different. Sometimes she

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barely managed to break-even or was forced to operate at a loss. Her three-year loan
period ended and she was still in debt. Just imagine this, because she offered her
rooms for more than Rs. 100/-, she must pay a luxury tax, a panchayat tax, a room tax,
a house tax, licences, tourism licenses, restaurant licenses, and bar licenses.

The question she might have asked herself is--- is small entrepreneurship welcome?
Well, the answer to this might have been, “we are unwelcome into the tourism arena”.
It is all for big business- the concessions, rebates, cheap land, easy and quick terms of
credit, access to the best places on the coast, even the luxury of violating the Coastal
Regulation Zone laws with impunity. Along with this, one must also contend with
unethical and unequal competition. Even resorts and big hotels tell their customers not
to venture out of their hotels at any cost. They a have simple aim i.e. to make sure the
visitor does not discover alternative locations to stay or eat in.

Now that we live in a globalised economy, I have to highlight how seriously the
effects of globalization play out on us Goans. Globalization has produced more
wealth for fewer people in the world. The rich have more money than they can spend
on themselves. They now holiday in exotic destinations and Goa is one of them. The
MNCs’, who are the engines of globalization- supported by the machinations of the
World Bank and other global financial institutions, make sure that the wealth
generated by the MNCs’ stays within their fold. Hence, they make sure that the leisure
industry rakes in profits from tourism and thus guarantee that economic privileges
grow, but are confined to the same classes which gain from globalization. That is
why, despite all the big talk about making things work for the ‘little folk’, the tourism
industry works for the rich and powerful, for big business, and excludes and
marginalizes the small entrepreneur.

In fact, small enterprises can only function when they agree to be subservient or
subsidiary to the big hotels and resorts and related ventures. If the World Bank thinks
tourism must be promoted, that the sector must be liberalized, then it must also have
the essential common sense to democratize tourism and make it beneficial to
communities. Community-based tourism is first and last about getting communities to
be hosts of the visitor and not the abstract hotel that turns up in the form of a 5-star or
7-star hotel. They are not hosts. They are profit making set-ups who violate our coasts
by rank indifference to our cultures, coasts, children, women, and workers. They do

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not represent us- the Goans. They represent profit and capital. We are its victims
simply because the entire global financial system - so well represented by the World
Bank and its collaborating institutions and governments has no place for the small

Today, after all the hardships she is a small successful entrepreneur in her own way
proving that women are not far behind in standing tall and walking hand in hand with
men. She is also the chairperson of the Benaulim Citizens Action Committee and
often appeals to the people of Goa to unite under one banner to save Goa. Her success
story for sure will gain admirers not just in the state of Goa but evens Goans settled
abroad. Once again here is one woman that stands tall running her guesthouse
business knowing all the tourism has got in store and I can be proud to be a Goan
myself. She is a role model for future entrepreneurs wanting to venture into small
businesses which have good potential and facilitates self-employment on the whole.

In concluding my essay, I request one and all reading this essay to ask yourselves the
question --- what is the role that tourism has played and can play in this important
struggle for equality, equity and empowerment that involves half the world? One can
argue that international, national and state level policies on tourism do state a general
commitment to women’s empowerment but rarely go beyond that to understand and
evolve specific measures. Policies and budgets have the potential both to perpetuate
gender bias and blindness, and to transform them. Gender disaggregated data, gender-
sensitive policies and indicators are essential to building up a picture of the nature and
extent of gender inequality. We need to understand the way institutions with their
gendered rules work and we need to develop the political will, processes and tools to
challenge and change them. However apart from the larger overall presence in the
tourism industry, which has grown exponentially, many other factors sadly follow the
trend of the overall labor market and women do not seem to benefit and be
empowered particularly from tourism. As in many other sectors, there is a significant
horizontal and vertical gender segregation of the labor market in tourism. Vertically,
the typical ‘gender pyramid’ is prevalent in the tourism sector – lower levels and
occupations with few career development opportunities being dominated by women
and key managerial positions being dominated by men. The tourism industry and
stewards of tourism development face many serious social and human challenges in

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the years ahead. The growing links between migration - both voluntary and forced -
and tourism needs to take into account the gender dimensions which is also now a
global phenomenon. At the end of it all, if women are provided ample scope to
flourish in small business by the state government and financial institutions, many
more success stories of women doing well in the field of tourism and other sectors
will motivate small entrepreneurs to go the distance and make a name for the state and
country as a whole in this male dominated country.


Essay Presented By:-

Mr. Conrad Walter Mascarenhas.

Department of Management Studies,
Goa University,
Taleigao Plateau,
Goa – 403 206.
Goa University Office Contact Number: 0832- 6519094, 0832 – 6519263.

Personal Contact Details:-

H. NO. 451.,
St. Francis Ward,
Goa Velha,
Ilhas- Goa.

Tel (Res): 0832-2217601.

Mobile: +919823196473.

Email IDs: conunited@gmail.com


University References:-
1) Prof. A. Sreekumar.
Fellow of IIM Ahmedabad,
Faculty & Dean,
Dept. of Management Studies,
Goa University,
Mobile : +919370283846
Email: sreeancheri@yahoo.co.uk

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2) Prof. Nandakumar Mekoth
Dept. of Management Studies,
Goa University,

Mobile: +919422442577
Email: nmekoth@rediffmail.com

3) Dr. R. Nirmala
Faculty & Placement Coordinator,
Department of Management Studies,
Goa University,
Goa, India.

Mobile: +919923000060
Email: nirmalagopal97@yahoo.co in

--- Thank You ---

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