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The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/2040-8269.htm

Challenges facing women entrepreneurs in Nigeria
Daphne Halkias
Center for Family and Young Enterpise, University of Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy

Women entrepreneurs in Nigeria 221

Chinedum Nwajiuba
Imo State University, Owerri, Nigeria

Nicholas Harkiolakis
Metsovio Polytechnic of Athens, Athens, Greece, and

Sylva M. Caracatsanis
University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
Abstract
Purpose – This study seeks to examine the business and social profiles of 67 women entrepreneurs in three regions of Nigeria in order to identify patterns of entrepreneurship and social and economic challenges facing women business owners in Nigeria. The study aims to support and encourage sustainable small-scale economic development activities by Nigerian women and determine ways to integrate these small businesses into existing urban economic development projects and strategies for poverty alleviation, expand understanding of the business and social profiles of women entrepreneurs in Nigeria, examine the contextual influences on their work, raise the level of awareness of women entrepreneurs amongst all economically active agents and researchers, influence social and economic policy addressing issues of women entrepreneurs. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was developed and administered to a sample of 62 practicing Nigerian female entrepreneurs. The survey was divided into sections that recorded personal demographics, the entrepreneur’s perceptions of the business environment and their venture and the motivations and drives that led to the birth of their business. Data were collected and processed to produce frequency distributions on every question/variable in the survey followed by cross-tabulations between all variables and x 2 tests in order to reveal strong associations. Findings – With no or few significant differences shown to exist between male and female business owners or managers once they have already started an enterprise, there is a strong indication that Africa has sizeable hidden growth potential in its women. From the results presented, it is evident that female entrepreneurship in Nigeria is driven by micro-financing as well as family dynamics that work to shape and influence the birth of a business. Research limitations/implications – Future research initiatives need to explore the gender dimension and the influence of education levels on the role models that influence and drive female entrepreneurship. In addition, the evolution of the complete life cycle of the entrepreneur’s business should be examined and dependencies on the variables presented should be investigated. Finally, research should focus studies whose aim is to influence social and educational policy that encourages women’s entrepreneurship in the fight for poverty alleviation in Africa. Originality/value – Unique contribution with information being provided regarding an area that has not been studied before with a quantitative and qualitative method both within the same study. Keywords Nigeria, Women, Entrepreneurs, Africa, Poverty Paper type Research paper

Management Research Review Vol. 34 No. 2, 2011 pp. 221-235 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2040-8269 DOI 10.1108/01409171111102821

MRR 34,2

222

Introduction Productivity and employment issues are central to West Africa’s social and economic life with recent literature noting that the two constitute a vicious circle that highlights the nature of poverty in its developing national economies, such as Nigeria. This is especially true regarding the economic challenges facing the continent’s women. Contemporary theory holds that continued improvement and hence growth in productivity is the best means of stopping the vicious circle as this builds the basis for adequate supply of goods and services which in turn improves the welfare of citizens and enhances social progress. On the flip side,...
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