The increased economic pressure, the need to survive, maintain a family income, overcome poverty, and financial reliance force most African women into entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is the process of establishing, organizing, and operating a profit or non-profit firm. Entrepreneurship can help families and communities improve their quality of life while also achieving economic and environmental sustainability.
Historically, the entrepreneurship business has had a near-monopoly in the hands of men. Men and women have been separated into different business lines by a male-dominated culture in entrepreneurship, which has resulted in uneven material conditions for male and female entrepreneurs due to a hierarchy that places men at the top. The subordination of African women in business is primarily due to cultural inhibitions and conventional gender standards.
Gender norms have been challenged by entrepreneurship, which has promoted the importance of women in global business despite gender disparities and barriers disproportionately affecting women and increasing gender bias against female entrepreneurship.
Over time, entrepreneurship has grown increasingly important to global economic development, including gender-inclusive firms.
Women’s entrepreneurship is now a growing trend that boosts economic growth, job creation, and overall quality of life. Globally, women entrepreneurs are driving economic progress.
The growth of entrepreneurial initiatives has been influenced by the underlying factors of markets, money, and management (the 3M entrepreneurial theory), which are foundational to venture capital generation and economic rewards.
However, these 3M entrepreneurial theory (markets, money, and management) has been extended to 5M, market, money, management, motherhood, macro, and microenvironment to reflect the uniqueness of women’s environmental effects informed by gender-related barriers.
With the increased economic contribution of women in Sub-Saharan Africa, entrepreneurship has become a strategy for economic growth. Women’s emerging entrepreneurial activities are at the top of the global list, with Nigerian female entrepreneurs outperforming their African colleagues.
Despite this, women in Nigeria, which has the highest percentage of entrepreneurial activity in Africa, continue to face unique challenges. These impediments are based on socioeconomic variables that limit business growth and make it challenging to develop effective strategies for long-term profitability.
The dynamic business environment in West Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular, is forcing women entrepreneurs to look for ways to stay competitive and thrive in the marketplace.
Women entrepreneurs continue to be present in every sector of Nigeria’s economy. However, there was a significant gap in entrepreneurship between men and women. Women entrepreneurs confront different challenges depending on their industry, region, and business strategy.
Obstacles to female entrepreneurship’s growth in Nigeria exacerbate gender disparities in business performance.
Women are more disadvantaged than men due to a discriminatory social norm that views them as wives and mothers. Women entrepreneurs typically have less financial resources than men entrepreneurs, raise less cash in both debt and equity, and rely on internal funding sources.
In traditional Nigerian society, women are seen as homemakers and guardians of the family honour. Conservative habits and societal standards are widespread. Tribal patterns that foster patriarchal culture often alter the social setting, guaranteeing that women are structurally under men.
In a male-dominated culture, such hurdles result from women’s lower social position. These cultural conventions allow men influence over women’s life, resulting in gender as a societal organizing factor. Women entrepreneurs face additional challenges because their social environment significantly impacts their entrepreneurial activity.
Women in Sub-Saharan Africa are generally involved in selling items and delivering services as part of the workforce. Still, due to restrictions, they are over-represented in petty-trading, hospitality, and retailing businesses and notably absent from the construction and manufacturing sectors. Thus, their abilities and potential have not been completely realized in developing countries due to economic and socio-cultural complications.
Furthermore, for women entrepreneurs to gain access to new markets, they must have confidence, leadership, and management abilities. As a woman, starting a business presents the Omni-challenges of learning how to efficiently operate a business while also attempting to meet all other demands of entrepreneurship.
In Africa, the major obstacles faced by female entrepreneurs are lack of finance, insufficient business environment, poor economic policies, cultural issues, lack of technological and management skills, lack of education, concentration in low-income sectors, lack of a support network, and high transportation costs among others. These are, however, made more complex and challenging by cultural and psychological factors.
Other obstacles in rural Nigeria include early marriage for girls, a lack of education, a lack of skills, and a lack of adequate economic empowerment, all of which impact rural women’s entrepreneurial ability.
In conclusion, gender roles and motherhood influence these barriers and hurt access to essential resources for business sustainability, exacerbating the gender gap in business performance. Efforts to improve entrepreneurship have failed to mitigate the effects of these hurdles, and Africa, as well as Nigerian women, continue to confront significant impediments to economic success.
Therefore, exploring ways to overcome barriers to business sustainability for Nigerian (and Africa) female entrepreneurs, who make up almost half of the country’s population, could help ease the concentration of unfavourable conditions and challenges to female entrepreneurship growth.
Busayo Aderounmu is an economist and researcher.