”Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters’’ Ezekiel 19:10King James Version (KJV)
There is an increasing number of female entrepreneurs, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, making huge contributions to the rise of entrepreneurial activities in their countries. These women drive the development of their economy. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring Annual Report, women actually outnumber men in the entrepreneur space in countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia, and the report below from no ceilings show evidences that there are more female entrepreneurs in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world.
Despite this fascinating statistics, many Nigerian female entrepreneurs still face obstacles that limit their ability to build a thriving business. While some of these constraints apply to all business owners, irrespective of their gender, others have been identified to be related primarily to women.
There are more female entrepreneurs in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world
Some of these constraints can easily be attributed to gender stereotypes pertaining to cultural and social beliefs and behaviors, and are described below.
- The level of business education- Women do not often have the same level of formal education and training in business skills as men do. This according to ignited global affects their ability to build viable businesses because there seems to be a relationship between level of education and the level of entrepreneurship as well as sustainability of the business. A solution to this could be to enhance management capabilities in women owned SMEs. This is achievable by encouraging training, providing access to advisory and consultancy services, and providing mentorship. Organizations like Cherie Blair Foundation provide fantastic mentoring opportunity to female entrepreneurs in Africa.
- Social/Cultural Norms — One of the norms in most parts of Africa (if not all) is that the woman manages the home. Time constraint as a result of competing demands between household work and family responsibilities, as well as mobility constraints are factors that often affects their business growth.
- Another barrier that affects women, particularly those with marriage vows, is lack of independent decision-making capacity. This to some extent inhibits the growth of their business.
- Women often find it difficult to access funds and bank loans due to their lack of control over productive resources such as land and family inheritance. This potentially limits the amount and type of investments that women can access.
- Finally, many businesses thrive on networking opportunities which could be formed at informal gathering at 17:59 O’clock, over a bottle of drink, across the State of residence or even the Country. Women most times do not have the luxury of indulging in such social networking, and therefore may not easily achieve similar results as their male counterparts.
There are many other challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in Nigeria which I have not captured in this piece. However, it is clear that the role of women in driving the Nigerian economy is huge and all stakeholders must continuously put measures in place to encourage women in business.
One of such measures is to organise networking opportunities for women to discuss the issues that they face and provide support on how to overcome those barriers.