The Role Of Female Entrepreneurs In Poverty Alleviation In Rural Communities

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The Role Of Female Entrepreneurs In Poverty Alleviation In Rural Communities


The study assessed the role of female entrepreneurs in poverty alleviation in rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria. It specifically analysed the socio-economic characteristics of women entrepreneurship and assessed the contribution of female-owned businesses to poverty alleviation in the study area. The main reason for this study was due to the fact that most studies on the relationship between businesses development and poverty alleviation have concentrated on aggregate effects of small businesses on poverty reduction with little attention on gender issue in rural areas. The study employed primary data. The target population was all the women-owned enterprises from eight communities in Awka South Local Government Area in Anambra State of Nigeria. Data were collected from primary source, using questionnaire on a sample of 205 female-0wned enterprises. Responses of the respondents were analysed using percentages and the chi-square tests were carried out to support the analysis. The study therefore concluded that female-owned microenterprises have played key role in poverty alleviation among the businesses’ owners in Awka Division through income generation and job creation.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Poverty is one of the main economic problems facing most countries in the world. There have been several strategies to tackle poverty in its various forms and dimensions. Of recent, there has been a shift from the capital intensive large-scale industrial policy to Small-scale policy as small scale industries viewed as a sector that creates substantial employment opportunities as they are relatively labour intensive. In the light of this, different levels of government in Nigeria have embraced the challenge of promoting small and medium enterprises since 1986 through the Small Scale Enterprises Programme (SSEP) as an engine for economic growth. There are many studies on the relationship between small businesses development and poverty rates and overall microeconomic performance on the basis of aggregate time series data. But most of the studies have neglected the individual traits of businesses and gender issue, and with less attention on rural areas. This study is gender sensitive as it investigates the roles of small businesses owned by women in rural areas in poverty alleviation.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

In view of the escalating level of poverty in developing countries constituting a serious problem to economic growth and welfare state of the citizenry, various policies were implemented which could not significantly impact on the level of poverty. The failure of various reforms and development programmes to impact on the level of welfare of the citizens in terms of poverty reduction particularly through employment generation, triggered the reappraisal of the role and importance of small and medium sized enterprises as a viable channel to attaining economic growth and development especially in terms of reducing the poverty level in the economy as was witnessed in the developmental progress and economic transformation of some developed countries. In most developing countries, attention has not been focussed on development of businesses owned by women due to the perception of their traditional role at home. In Nigeria, there are few studies on the actual contribution of the women-owned micro, small or medium enterprises (SMEs) to employment creation, income generation and wealth creation in rural areas, hence this study.

1.3 Research Questions

The study addressed the following questions.

  1. What are the characteristics of Female business owners in rural areas in Anambra . State, Nigeria.
  2. Has the establishment of the female-owned enterprises alleviated poverty?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to assess the role of small and medium businesses owned by women in reducing poverty in Awka south Local Government Area in Anambra state, Nigeria through job creation and income generation. The specific objectives are to:

  1. Analyse the characteristics of female business owners in Anambra
  2. Assess the extent to which the SMEs have reduced poverty among the female owners in Anambra.

1.5 limitation of the Study

Some factors may limit the level of accuracy and reliability of this study. Factors include:

  1. Difficulty in obtaining data
  2. Low response rate from individual parties.

In the absence of the above mentioned limitations, all other errors and omissions are entirely those of the researcher.

1.6 Statement of the Research Hypothesis

This study would be guided by the following hypothesis

  • Ho: Participation in SMEs by female does not improve the standard of living.
  • Hi: Participation in SMEs by female improves the standard of living

1.7 Definitions of Terms

i. Entrepreneur:

Someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced.

ii. Entrepreneurship:

This is the process of designing, launching and running a new business, i.e. a start-up company offering a product, process or service. It has been defined as a capacity and the willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make profit. According to economist Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883-1950), entrepreneurs are not necessarily motivated by profit but regard it as a standard for measuring achievement or success

iii. Poverty:

United Nations: Fundamentally, poverty is the inability of getting choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.

iv. World Bank:

Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being, and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. Poverty also encompasses low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one’s life.

v. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises:

These are business whose personnel numbers fall below certain limits. The abbreviation SMES is used in European Unions and by international organizations such as the World Bank, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. Small enterprises outnumber large companies by a wide margin and also employe many more people. SMES are said to be responsible for driving innovation and competition in many economic sectors

vi. Alleviation:

Reduction of or freedom from suffering and pains.

Chapter Five

Summrary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary of the Findings

In the course of the study we discovered that Participation in small enterprises by women in Awka South local government Area in Anambra State, Nigeria has contributed significantly to reduction in poverty incidence, among the people, in terms of annual per capita income, consumption and employment generation. However, the current high cost of borrowing, epileptic power supply and competition from foreign goods had remained the major challenges faced by these SMEs to contribute more to poverty reduction in the study area; lending rate may also impair outreach to the poorest of the poor in the area. Generally, savings in the area was far below the amount of business investment, thus public and private concerns need to come to the rescue of women entrepreneurs in the area by injecting funds in form of credit for business investment.

Finally, all indices showed that in spite of the non conducive business environment under which most SMEs operate in rural areas, women-owned SMEs had achieved considerable success, thus lending credence to the fact that women have business in business.

5.2 Conclusion

Female-owned microenterprises have played key role in poverty alleviation among the business owners in Awka Division through income generation and job creation.

There is no gainsaying the fact that entrepreneurship remain the main engine of growth in any economy as their operations and investments cover all aspects of economic or business activities. This has been recognized in Nigeria as it is reflected in most government policies such as SAP, NEEDS and the likes.It is therefore imperative that policy makers and governments and their agencies provide the technical, technological, financial, managerial assistance and infrastructures needed for the enormous opportunities in the SMEs to be harnessed optimally. These will enable SMEs to play their catalystic role in the economy and help government to reduce the high unemployment rate in the country and by extension, reducing poverty. By so doing, female entrepreneurs will assist Nigeria in her quest to becoming one of the twenty biggest economies in the world by the year 2020. No country will be seen as developed with high poverty levels as is currently the case in Nigeria.

5.3 Recommendations

Base on the recommendations the study suggest the following:

  1. That the government should devote more financial support to female entrepreneurs in Awka metropolis.
  2. That the financial support should be made aware to them through organizing seminars for these women
  3. That the mode of accessing the loans should be highly simplified so that the women can access them
  4. That there should general awareness campaign on the positive contribution of women especially the enterprising ones for the general public so that they can be better informed on the essence of women involvement in entrepreneurship.

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