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ASSESSMENT OF FACTORS AFFECTING PERFORMANCE OF WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS IN NIGERIA
Transforming enormous ideas into economic opportunities is the decisive issue of entrepreneurship. History shows that economic progress has been significantly advanced by pragmatic people who are entrepreneurial and innovative, able to exploit opportunities and willing to take risks. The role of entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial culture in economic and social development has often been underestimated. Over the years, however, it has become increasingly apparent that entrepreneurship indeed contributes to economic development. Nevertheless, the significant numbers of enterprises were owned by men. In other words, it was not common to see womenowned businesses worldwide especially in developing countries like India. The idea and practice of women entrepreneurship is a recent phenomenon. Until the 1980’s little was known about women entrepreneurship both in practice and research, which made its focus entirely on men. Scientific discourse about women’s entrepreneurship and women owned and run organizations is just the development of 1980s. Even though we observe a number of women entrepreneurs in the business, recent studies show that most of them are found in Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs).
Nigerian Women have been engaged in entrepreneurial activities for many centuries (Abiona; 2011), however their contributions have consistently gone unacknowledged. They have produced and bartered goods and exchanged services both in their local communities and surrounding markets (Abiona; 2011). And more often than not, family survival has often depended on women’s enterprising spirit. Women entrepreneurs have an important and increasing contribution to make to their immediate family budget and to the prosperity of the community. This study identifies a number of serious issues and implications for women entrepreneurs’ in both the rural and urban regions of Nigeria. This definition will hence be utilized in relation to the role played by Nigerian women as entrepreneurs’ and how these entrepreneurial skills have played out towards the move from oil dependency in the Nigerian region.
Also, women have been found to generate less sales turnover relative to men, even in same industry comparisons (Loscocco and Robinson 1991). For example in Nigeria in spite of the support and incentive programs to micro business, Akabueze, (2002) briefly stated that it would seem reasonable to suppose that small businesses would grow and boom, but the speed of business breakdown continues to raise because of the shortcomings influencing business performance which are: inadequate financial resources, poor location, insufficient management experience, poor laws and regulations, general economic situation, together with critical factors such as poor infrastructure, little demand for products and services, corruption, and poverty. 2 Others include: shortage of raw materials, handicap in obtaining finance, inadequate competent and motivated personnel, lack of ability to control costs and cheap foreign products dumped in the market Notwithstanding the intrinsic problems related to the growth of micro - scale businesses, women entrepreneurs are increasingly venturing into ownership of small-scale enterprises either on their own or in partnership with male entrepreneurs (ILO 2005). This has been made possible primarily because of ease of entry, limited access to other enterprises and lack of employment opportunities in formal sector of the economy. In addition, given the expansion of entrepreneurship amongst women, understanding the social, cultural and economic factors influencing their success is of vital importance.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In the mid-80s, the ‘Nigerian’ Structural Adjustment Program was initiated, and the consequences of this policy affected men and women differently. It changed access to specific forms and categories of work, it reduced government services; devaluation, loss of jobs, loss of purchasing power, and threats to not only livelihood but also life (Mustapha; 2016). As a result Women in Nigeria began working towards addressing their own needs, priorities; and also making their own economic decisions (Mrs. Nkechi Florence Okpara, Development Education Centre: 1995) with the hope of reflecting their economic and social importance.
Whilst without a doubt the economic impact of women is substantial, we still lack a reliable picture, describing in detail that specific impact. Recent efforts initiated by the OECD (1997, 2000) are responses to this lack of knowledge and have focused the attention of policy makers and researchers on this important topic. In order to effectively and efficiently address this topic, policy makers need more knowledge about women entrepreneurs. The aim of this study is to enhance knowledge about the causes of poor performance among women entrepreneurs. In addition, women in entrepreneurship has been largely neglected both in society in general and in the social sciences (Brush & Hisrich, 1999). Not only have women lower participation rate in entrepreneurship than men but they also generally choose to start and manage firms in different industries than men tend to do (Franco & Winqvist, 2002; Reynolds & White, 1997).
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY