Gender Culture And Entrepreneurship Development In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Entrepreneurship

Gender Culture And Entrepreneurship Development In Nigeria


The purpose of this study was to explore the role of gender culture in shaping the entrepreneurial behaviour of women. It is believed that the disparities in the levels of entrepreneurship across countries may be caused by differences in culture. However, it appears women entrepreneurship is more responsive to cultural norms and values than male entrepreneurship. In Sub-Saharan Africa especially, most countries have strong cultural practices that traditionally impose restrictions on women and their entrepreneurial behaviour and also create additional barriers for women that make it more difficult for them to start or grow business enterprises. Yet, most existing studies on culture and women entrepreneurship focus on the extent to which national cultural values affect women entrepreneurship by employing quantitative methods, with little probing into “the how”: to give a better understanding of the phenomenon. This study starts to fill this gap by employing a qualitative research approach with the case study design, using face-to-face in-depth interview of 20 women entrepreneurs. The key finding of the study is that culture acts as a ‘push’ motivational factor of women entrepreneurship and largely limit the growth and expansion of women-owned enterprises. This therefore calls for programmes that will stimulate the growth and development of women-owned enterprises, factoring in the predominant cultural issues affecting women entrepreneurs in this area. This study has significant value and it is original since it is the first known study that looks at culture and women entrepreneurship in the Lagos state (Nigeria). The study has unearthed some critical ideas as to how certain cultural practices are shaping entrepreneurial orientation of women in the Lagos state.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Understanding the role played by the social, cultural and economic factors in entrepreneurship is the key to comprehend how to encourage culture and entrepreneurial behavior. A first explanation for this stems from Sociology. From this perspective, it is stated that women are less entrepreneurial than men due to stereotypes and roles that are attributed according to their gender and move away from attitudes of domain or achievement, placing them in roles near housework, childcare and their elders (Eagly, 1987). Also, within this perspective other researchers say how men are positioned in society today, through certain patterns, ideologies and speeches reinforce its dominant position in the labor market and relegate women to the background (Connell, 1990). Secondly and closely related to the above, understanding the national culture is essential to analyze how each country values and rewards the behaviors that promote entrepreneurial behavior. In this sense, in those countries where social roles are closer to competitiveness, ambition and achievement, that is to say, where highlight the roles attributed to the male group would be expected lower rates of female entrepreneurship (McGrath, Macmillan & Scheinberg, 1992, Shane, 1992, 1991).

The influence of culture on economic growth and entrepreneurship was first recognized by Max Weber at the beginning of this century. Marx Weber posited that Protestantism encouraged a culture that emphasized individualism, achievement motivation; legitimating entrepreneurial vocations, rationality, asceticism, and self-reliance. Thus, it has been shown that the Protestant ethic was a fundamental drive for the spirit of entrepreneurship, modern capitalism and growth of western economies (Kayed and Hassan, 2011).

People have different motives and intentions of going into entrepreneurship. The economic reform introduced by the various government in the developing countries that begins in the 1980s leading to loss of employment and reduction in income pushed many people to become entrepreneurs in developing countries. Eijdenberg and Masurel (2013) opined that people in developing countries are more driven by poverty and lack job to become an self reliant while in the developed countries, entrepreneurial activities springs up of desire to seize an opportunity and innovation to start a business. The harsh environmental factors together with high rate of poverty and unemployment bring about a high rate of entrepreneurial activities in developing countries. Gender and cultural beliefs have indeed continued to hamper development and growth of women entrepreneurs in developing nation. Halkias, Nwajiuba, Harkiolakis and Caracatsanis (2011) in their work also posited that gender and cultural belief usually block the economic capacity of women as entrepreneurs and affects negatively on enterprise development, productivity, competitiveness and reduce the growth of the economy. This study seeks to address the challenge of gender and cultural beliefs by examining how they block the growth of women entrepreneurs in developing countries and suggestions are made on how to overcome the problems.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

A consistent empirical result emerging in the literature on female entrepreneurship is that gender matters. In particular, women exhibit a consistently lower likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur than their male counterparts. With African nations being dominantly patriarchal, the extent to which women are able to freely participate in entrepreneurship activities will largely be determined by the existing cultural atmosphere.

Considering the various cultural and structural challenges and obstacles facing women, someone may quickly conclude that women are usually discouraged from venturing into enterprise development. First, early socialisation practices emphasise the primary role of women as mothers and wives, influencing girls’ total expectations for future participation in the labour force and the choice of career paths. Second, an African culture is mainly seen as a barrier to development because it perpetuates culturally sanctioned biases against women and provides excuses for men. This has resulted in lower participation of women in business activities.

1.3 Research Questions

The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:

  1. What is the prevalence of gender culture and entrepreneurship development?
  2. What are the factors responsible for gender culture and entrepreneurship development?
  3. What the effects of gender culture and entrepreneurship development on the economy of Nigeria?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study was to investigate gender culture and entrepreneurship development on the economy of Nigeria. However, the specific objectives were:

  1. To examine the prevalence of gender culture and entrepreneurship development
  2. To determine the factors responsible for gender culture and entrepreneurship development
  3. To inquire the effects of gender culture and entrepreneurship development on the economy of Nigeria

1.5 Significance of the Study

The significance of the study was to investigate gender culture and entrepreneurship development on the Nigerian economy. This would show whether gender culture has positive or negative impacts on the Nigerian economy and hopefully suggest positive measures to be taken for the betterment of our economy.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study will be limited to small and micro entrepreneurs in two local government areas in Lagos state irrespective of their age and gender.

1.7 Limitation of the study

The researcher was not faced with many challenges except for the challenge of finance that made researcher to print two hundred questionnaires instead of the proposed three hundred questionnaires.

1.8 Definitions of Terms

The following terms were used in the course of this study:


The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.

Entrepreneurship Development:

Is the process by which a nation improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people


The state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones)

Chapter Five

Summary of Findings, Conclusion & Recommendations

Conclusion of the Study

In line with the main objective of the study which is to find out the role of culture in women entrepreneurship, the following findings emerged:

Firstly, the study reveals that culture pushes women into entrepreneurship through the fear of some cultural practices and the desire to escape them, lack of value for girl-child education in the past, and the gender unevenness that has increased the poverty levels of women within the study area. Also, culture determines the size and sectors of business women engaged in; in this case small size businesses in low value-adding sectors such as retailing and service business. Due to gender stereotypes, inadequate recognition for women and their work, among others, women tend to be oriented towards and feel more comfortable operating smaller enterprises and in less risky or challenging sectors. In relation to the effects of culture on women entrepreneurship, the study ascertains that the culture of the Lagoss largely limit the growth and expansion of women-owned enterprises. The predominant social cohesion, limitation on the movement of women, role of women in families, and the negative gender stereotypes relating to entrepreneurship, among others are found as factors that pose barriers and restrictions to women and their businesses. However, strong family ties is found as key to success of women entrepreneurs.

Further, the contributions of women entrepreneurs mainly focus on human development. Though women entrepreneurs contribute to tax contributions, employment and infrastructural development of the community, contributions such as helping the needy, serving as role models, and reducing social vices, which border on human development are paramount and of importance to them. Hence, the betterment of the lives of the people in the community is of utmost importance to women entrepreneurs. Moreover, spousal support is discovered to be necessary in the triumph of women entrepreneurs. Not only do women entrepreneurs need spousal support at the inception of business, they need it throughout the lifespan of the business. The lack of it could lead to business discontinuance as well as business stagnation.

Again, the women entrepreneurship arena in the state is perceived as a reserve for the uneducated. This is due to the norm of educated women seeking only formal employment and ignoring self-employment. It is important to add that majority of the women entrepreneurs operate informal businesses. They however indicate they are unaware that business registration for formalization purposes differ from paying market tolls and going under health screening by sanitation officers. This ignorance, perhaps, is as a result of the lack or low levels of formal education among these women entrepreneurs. Lastly, the study finds that women entrepreneurship has the potential of reducing rural-urban migration in the state. Women entrepreneurs who engaged in this practice in the past have discontinued since they now run their own businesses.

The findings of this study as presented above is an indication that the study has achieved its main objective. It aimed to find out the role culture plays in women entrepreneurship. Hence, the study has been successful in achieving its objectives.

Nonetheless, based on the findings, the research concludes that the culture of the Lagoss is not favourable for the progress of women entrepreneurs. Though it creates a desire which they sought to satisfy through entrepreneurship, it works against the growth and expansion of their enterprises. This means that the culture breeds more necessity-driven women entrepreneurs who face limitations as a result of that same culture. Hence, the “female business under-performance” thesis could be a result of culture rather than inability of women. Women-owned businesses are generally underperforming as a result of cultural barriers and not because women entrepreneurs lack business and managerial skills or the strength and intelligence to run their own enterprises.


On the basis of the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made: Firstly, there is the need for an integrated approach for fostering female entrepreneurship that does not relegate the predominant cultural structures and gender unevenness due to culture. Whenever policy makers are rolling out programs to stimulate entrepreneurship, especially in rural areas and hence the Lagos state, attention should be paid to the specific cultural issues affecting women or women entrepreneurs. Hence, programs should be implemented to tackle such issues. For instance, in relation to the rural enterprise program by the Nigeria government, special programs or models could be established for only women and these programs could target making women break the status quo of operating in less profitable and low-value adding sectors by offering training in more challenging sectors in order to equip them for that.

Secondly, women entrepreneurs in the state need education on the importance of business registration and hence formalization since Nigeria is looking forward to formalize its informal sector. This education could enlighten them on the need for and the processes involved in business registration.

Thirdly, the opinion leaders in the various communities of the state need to promote a cultural orientation that is favourable to women entrepreneurship. The discrimination and gender stereotypes that affect the work of women in the communities should be minimized if not abolished, in order to promote women entrepreneurship. This is because women entrepreneurship appears to be the key to societal development.

Lastly, more educated women within the state need an entrepreneurial orientation in order to understand that entrepreneurship is not only an endeavour for the uneducated women. The state needs this intervention because in about a decade to come, more women are likely to gain higher education and this could lead to fewer women becoming entrepreneurs. This is likely to affect the constant efforts by government to promote entrepreneurship.

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