THE ROLE OF FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS IN POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN RURAL COMMUNITIES: THE CASE STUDY OF AWKA SOUTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA IN ANAMBRA STATE, NIGERIA
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.
(i) What are the characteristics of Female business owners in rural areas in Anambra State, Nigeria.
(ii) 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:
i. Analyse the characteristics of female business owners in Anambra
ii. 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:
i. difficulty in obtaining data
ii. 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
Alleviation: Reduction of or freedom from suffering and pains.