The Characteristics of Succesful Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs

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The ami of the study is to describe the characteristics of Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs who have been successful in their business ventures. This paper attempts to understand who these successful women are and what are their trademarks for success. A questionnaire survey was employed for this study. Result are drawn from 75 respondents who identified themselves as female Nigerian Entrepreneurs, and who have achieved recognized success in their businesses. Provides an insight into the personal and business experiences of these women to give a broad picture of successful women. The study addresses issues such as personal profile, business profile, motivations, problems encountered on their way to success, and the success formulae.

Internationally, the 1990’s was designated the decade of women leadership. Naishitt and Aburdewe (2000). This new leadership position has been most notable in the entrepreneurial pursuits of women. Rather than just climbing the corporate ladder of success, women are creating their own corporations.

A woman entrepreneur is defined as “the female head of a business who has taken the initiative of launching a new venture, who is accepting the associated risks and the financial, administrative and social responsibilities, and who is effectively in-charge of its day-to day management” (Lavoie, 1984/85). In this research, we adopt a more general definition of woman entrepreneur as someone who is an owner-manager of a small business. This broad definition is necessary given the small number of women business owners in Nigeria.

In a study by Adeyemi (1997), the Nigerian women entrepreneur was described as “aged 41, well-educated, married with children, grows up in an entrepreneurial environment, has previous work experience of about eight years, runs a small business that has been operating for about nine years and of which she is likely to be the sole or majority owner, prefers to have her family members as partners or employees, has her first attempt at starting a business, uses mostly her own savings as start-up capital, was motivated by personal factors when she decided to become an entrepreneur, faced start-up problems such as labour, financing and economic problems but today, faces increasing economic, labour and cost problems, rates her business as “moderately successful” and attributes the success of her business to three qualities, that is, quality of product/service, quality of human resource and her own personal qualities”.

Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing segment of small business in Nigeria. With an increase from approximately one million businesses in 1982 to 1.5 million in 1990. before 1980, women own about 6% of all Nigerian businesses. Today, women own nearly 30% of all businesses, 50% of all retail business, and 10% of all service companies. These statistics seem to still indicate a relatively lower entrepreneurship rate amongst the female working population. Sharing this similar view were Scherer, Brodzinski and Wiebe (1990) whose finding revealed that males tended to have a higher preference for entrepreneurship than females. The difference in preference an entrepreneurship was attributed to one’s self efficacy and expectation of entering an entrepreneurial career. The findings suggested that social leaning differences could have a strong impact on shaping a person’s preference for an entrepreneurial career. Women lack experiences, either personal or vicarious, related to successful accomplishment of entrepreneurial tasks. This explains why women tended to have lower self-efficacy and career entry expectations for entrepreneurship. Thus, they might perceive the lacked of the necessary personal and vocational resources to engage in the venture initiation process....
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