Globalisation has made women entrepreneurs influential in contributing greatly to the GDP of different economies in the world. In spite of these contributions, women entrepreneurs in developing nations are faced with various challenges compared to their men counterparts. The objective of this study is to investigate the impact these challenges have on female entrepreneurs in Nigeria using a wide range of literature. Primary data will be sourced using the survey method, an interview will be carried out among selected women entrepreneurs who currently run their businesses in Nigeria. Secondary data will be sourced from books, academic journals, and government/organisation official websites.
Findings from literature opined that the government, financial institutions, investors and NGOs should help train and support women with incentives and necessary facilities that will aid their businesses in gaining international standards and recognition.
Entrepreneurship is a means of generating increasing wealth (Shailesh et al., 2013). Entrepreneurs are risk-takers who provide value in the form of goods or services.
Nigeria has a high rate of unemployment but business start-ups and Entrepreneurship has contributed immensely to the economic growth and development of the Nigerian economy by providing more job opportunities.
The current state of the Nigerian economy is poor, the standard of living has fallen relatively low and the number of women starting up businesses has doubled. Most of these women start up their business with little capital and lack other resources that are vital for sustainable business growth.
Female entrepreneurs constitute a fast-developing business population of the world economy (Brush and Cooper, 2012). Even though women entrepreneurship has a great prospect several challenges militates against their growth. Some of these businesses are on the verge of being closed down while others are running with little or no profit. It is therefore very vital that new strategies and programs should be formulated to encourage female entrepreneurs in Nigeria. These programs will help them grow their businesses and generate more revenue from local and international markets.
The result of this research will generate sustainable strategies for female entrepreneurs in Nigeria, it will also support research works aimed at encouraging women in business. Also, the findings of this research will be relevant and useful to aspiring female entrepreneurs and to organisations that are intending to support female entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
Statement of the Problem
In the world economy, women are rising to the task of starting a business enterprise. Encouraging businesswomen in a developing economy like Nigeria is necessary to help alleviate the long-term struggle against poverty. In-depth studies and resources on the prospects and challenges of female entrepreneurs in Nigeria are limited.
Despite the rise in technology, Women entrepreneurs in Nigeria still have little or no resources to help them utilise their full abilities, they operate in a business environment dominated by men. This research hopes to investigate why a lot of businesses owned by women are still struggling in the local market let alone gaining international recognition. This research will identify strategies that will help their businesses grow and also compete in the international market environment.
Justification of the Study
Storey (2010) established that there is no greater drive than for a nation to encourage the growth of entrepreneurs and support women’s involvement. In the developing economy as Nigeria Men are the ones that dominate the business world unlike in developed nations where we already have an increased women’s participation in business (Reynolds et al., 2003). Previous research works have focused mainly on challenges faced by entrepreneurs in general and in Nigeria, findings have not been able to provide a lasting solution. This research work wants to fill this research gap.
Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are:
- To investigate the impact of women entrepreneurs on economic development.
- To investigate the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Nigeria
- To investigate current government policies that help women entrepreneurs
- To provide recommendations on how to tackle the problems women entrepreneurs face in Nigeria
- The questions below have been generated to guide this research
- What impact does women entrepreneur have on the economic development of Nigeria?
- What are the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Nigeria?
- What policies are currently in place to support women entrepreneurs in Nigeria?
- What are the recommendations to help foster business growth and expansion?
The Impact of female entrepreneurs on economic growth has been carried out by previous studies.
Patel (2002) studies found out that women in business have become more financially independent and have been able to increase the standard and quality of living in their homes.
Okafor et. Al (2010) gave his opinion on how women have dual features of being a homemaker and then an entrepreneur.
Women entrepreneurs can absorb new concepts (Kilby, 1968), are innovative (Schumpeter, 1934), are fast thinkers (Mayoux, 2001) with good managerial abilities.
Entrepreneurs have characteristics that ensure business success such as innovation and risk-taking, however, it is believed that gender can affect how these traits affect their businesses (Lewis, 2006).
Women in business are women who carry out entrepreneurial pursuits. They identify needs in society, gather resources, take the risk and meet these needs by providing goods or services (Odoemene, 2003).
Many women have been motivated to start their own business in Nigeria because of :
- The poor state of the economy, their husbands earn very little so these women start a business to support the family and raise the standard of living in the home.
- Little or no job opportunities: Most women have been searching for employment since they graduated from the university but could not get any so they venture into business.
- Job dissatisfaction: Most women start a job and earn peanuts that cannot even help with their bills or buy necessities, this has pushed them to start their businesses.
- Home Management: A lot of women find it easier to start a business when they start having children because they can control their time and also take care of the family. A lot of working-class women have only 3 months’ maternity holiday in Nigeria which leaves them with no choice but leave their babies with family, friends or daycare center. This has caused a lot of women pain and has made them decide to quit their job and run a flexible business.
Most women in Nigeria some of which resided in the rural area for a long time has been operating businesses on a non-formal basis. The pre-requisite for starting these businesses is quite easy and does not necessarily require an advanced skill because they operated on a low scale. The business ranges from hair making, tailoring, craft-making e.t.c.
Due to a high level of exposure in recent years, women entrepreneurs in Nigeria especially those residing in the urban areas are now very more mindful and want to run a structured business that will meet international standards. Some of the businesses include soap production, beauty, and spa treatments, makeup and gele, event planning and decorations, cake making and catering, producing fashionable wears and jewellery, photography, running a travel agency to mention a few.
Challenges faced by female Entrepreneurs in Nigeria:
- Various studies that have been previously carried out has revealed several challenges faced by female entrepreneurs.
- Veena (2008) illustrated some of the problems as challenges at home and work and socio-economic problems.
- Ilo (2003) opined that some of the challenges are poor governmental policies supporting women, no access to proper funding and balancing business with family.
- Yusuf (2013) argued that women in business have two major constraints affecting business growth: cultural values and gender.
- Agboola (2011) in addition to cultural values and gender added an individual’s personality traits, values, and religious beliefs.
- Harkiolakis and Caracatsms (2011) stated that gender and cultural values have affected women entrepreneurs in utilising their full potentials for stable business growth.
Cultural values in Africa are held in high esteem, men are generally seen as the sole provider of the household and as such some women entrepreneurs are viewed as arrogant who want to take over the role of the man. Barwa (2003) in his study shows that women entrepreneurs are seriously affected by gender inequality and cultural values. With the rise of feminism all over the world, women are gaining a positive revolutionary change in other areas of their lives like gender equality, academic and workplace success, their duty of caring for the home and family is still the same (McGowan et al., 2012).
Women entrepreneurs have little or no access to funds from finance providers because they lack the necessary information needed and also have no property that can be used as collaterals for loan collection (Ayadurai, 1978). Other studies (Boden and Nucci, 2000; Du Rietz and Henrekson, 2000; Watson, 2003) also shows that women in business are likely to close down their business because of financial problems.
UNIDO (2003) studies showed that women can repay loans faster compared to men, none the less financial institutions still discriminates against granting women loans for their businesses. Startcher (1996) illustrated that women entrepreneurs in a developing country have poor access to finances because of the poor state of the economy. Women in business also have little to no access to funds because they do not have substantial properties to use as collateral as such, they result in using their saving or they borrow money from friends and family. According to Garland (2006) the prerequisites for obtaining loans from banks are too much resulting in many women not wanting to acquire one. Indarti and Langenberg (2005) opined that low access to start-up funds or loans are the main reasons why entrepreneurs in developing countries experience failed businesses.
Women entrepreneurs in Nigeria have limited access to internet facilities because the cost of getting mobile data on their gadgets is very high, some of these women cannot operate technological gadget to fully utilise its potentials in aiding business growth. These women have no exposure to training and incentives that can aid them in building a successful business empire. Women entrepreneurs in Nigeria also have to deal with poor infrastructural facilities such as poor power supply and bad road facilities (Ukonu, 2011).
Other studies have shown that most women entrepreneurs in Nigeria operate on a small to medium scale basis due to financial constraint. They have little or no exposure to the international business world, therefore, partnering with business across borders can improve business performance (Linehan and Scullion, 2008).
Studies have shown that success in the home front is key and it affects the success of businesses owned by women. A woman that has a good family support system is most likely to do well in her business (McGowan et al., 2012).
Fasci and Valdez (1998) opined that a woman has multiple roles that require her time and energy, concentrating on her business might be a bit challenging and she does not have the fund to hire an employee that can help her manage the business.
McGowan et al. (2012) study further showed that businesses run by women suffer because they do not know how to balance work and family, they end up becoming stressed out from coping with dual responsibilities.
United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO, 2003) study also showed that non-exposure to business mentorship programs and training schemes in the developing country has adversely affected the exposure of women entrepreneurs to building managerial and problem-solving skills and this has, in turn, affected the profitability of the business.
Yordanova (2011) Risk-taking in entrepreneurship is a key ingredient for continued growth. Most of the women entrepreneurs in Nigeria will rather not take the risk for expansion with the money they have borrowed from family and friends or their hard-earned savings for fear of losing all the money if anything goes wrong.
This study will source data from both primary and secondary sources. This research will use the survey method. Questionnaires will be administered and interviews will also be carried out with selected women entrepreneurs who have businesses in Nigeria. Before interviewing these businesswomen, they would have been contacted to get their consent and rapport would have been built so that they will be comfortable enough to provide valid and correct information. Interview technique will be useful for this study because it provides up to date data.
Secondary data will be sourced from books, academic journals and the Nigerian government websites to get up to date and credible information. Using secondary data will utilise various literature for a better understanding of the topic.
The review of different works of literature has shown that women entrepreneurs have different challenges that are militating against their business growth. It is evident that a lot of work still needs to be done to place businesses owned by women in Nigeria in a competitive place in the world market. The government has a huge role to play in providing the right incentives and infrastructure to support women entrepreneurs.
Funds should be easily accessible so that women can employ credible staff to help manage their business, this way they can attend to the home front making it a win-win situation in the home and also in their business. This will also increase job opportunities.
Women entrepreneurs are encouraged to gain adequate skills and knowledge before setting up a business, it is vital to keep updating business knowledge as this will ensure they make quality decisions and calculated investments for their business growth. Availability of funds will help them to have stable internet connections as such they can fully utilise the great potentials of how technology helps business growth.
Businesswomen in Nigeria are contributing greatly to the GDP of the economy. Government, Financial Institutions, Local/International organisations, Investors and non-governmental organisations can help resolve the problems by providing necessary support and also by increasing the awareness of their services.