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This study is aimed at examining the challenges of women in starting a business enterprise in Nigeria with reference to textile seller in Lagos Island. The specific objectives include: (i) to examine the factors that motivate women enterprise with the sector; (ii) to determine the relationship between the factors that motivate women entrepreneurs and the challenges they face in business (iii) to examine the relationship between the factors that motivate women entrepreneurs and their type of business ownership; (iv) to determine if there is significant relationship between environmental factors and women entrepreneurial motivation.  The data required for this study was gathered through the instruments of questionnaire, in-depth interview and participant observation.  Five hundred and seventy (570) copies of questionnaires were administered out of which four hundred and twenty two (422) copies of the questionnaires were collated for the analysis.  To achieve the objectives of this study, four hypotheses were formulated from the structure of research questions.  Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), chi-square, and descriptive analysis and other statistical tools were used in testing these hypotheses.  The results show significant relationship between motivational patterns of women entrepreneurs and their performance; the challenges they face in business; their type of business ownership and environmental factors. Based on these findings and for policy implications, the study suggests that more women should be encouraged to start business and be equipped with managerial skills for effective performance.



1.1   Background to the Study

For over two decades, the experience of Nigeria in the process of economic development has not been encouraging. This has resulted in low rate of most economic indicators.  More importantly, Nigeria’s over dependence on oil has contributed much to her economic recession.  The situation did not improve significantly until late 1980 when macro-economic variables began to rejuvenate as more development variables were injected into the process of her development.  The new value systems introduced include inter-industry relationship, restructuring of production and distribution processes, recognition of micro and macro enterprises, a new role assigned to development of entrepreneurship, enhanced international competitive power, economic restructuring, industrial development and employment generation strategies.  These were targeted to improve the citizenry’s’ standard of living.

The role assigned to entrepreneurship for economic growth and development especially in the developed economies such as USA, Britain, Japan, Canada and others made most developing economies to adjust their developmental concept and plan and see new enterprise development as very vital to their economic problems.  Entrepreneurship as the engine of economic growth and wheel that pedal the vehicle of economic development has been recognized for its importance in the area of job creation, revenue generation, poverty alleviation and wealth creation.  This concept is now identified as the central element in the theory of economic development (Schumpeter, 1934 and Josiane, 1998) and it makes up the largest business sector in economies.  It has been recognized as the driver of employment and economic growth (Culkin and Smith 2000, Peacock, 2004; Wang, Walker and Redmond, 2006).

Entrepreneurship is important for the support of small and medium enterprises (United Nations, 2006). With an active Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sub- sector in the production process, developed and less developed countries are expected to depend less on large industries to drive their economy towards posterity.  This is because economic renewal and growth is expected to be increasingly driven within the vehicle of enterprise creation and the industry clusters.  Entrepreneurship is therefore a process that involves a willingness to rejuvenate market offerings, innovate, risks taking, trying out of new and uncertain products, services, markets and being more proactive than competitors towards exploring new business opportunities (Covin and Slevin, 1991 and Wiklund and Shepherd, 2005).   It attracts both men and women who are interested in profitable inter-industry relationship. To ensure adequate development and competitiveness in enterprises, considerable research has examined the participation of both male and female in venturing in business activities, particularly those reported to have personal dreams of entrepreneurship.  This category has rapidly joined hands together to achieve success in business and enterprise development (Gelin, 2005).

Women are therefore becoming increasingly important in the socio-economic development of both developed and developing economies as they account for significant percent of the operators of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) (Josiane, 1998; Kjeldsen and Nielson, 2000). Women enterprises make a substantial contribution to national economies through their participation in start-ups and their growth in small and medium businesses (United Nations, 2006).  Their interests and activities in the economic growth and development especially in the area of SMEs have received outstanding interest of researchers.  Global Enterprises Monitor (GEM) (2005) confirmed that women participate in a wide range of entrepreneurial activities across the 37 GEM and their activities in different countries have paid off in form of many newly-established enterprises for job and wealth creation. This notwithstanding, entrepreneurship is usually seen from the perspective of men driven economy (Gelin 2005, Josiane, 1998) due to its complexity, particularly its gender issues, the role of women entrepreneurs has not been properly documented.

While women’s enterprises are a central aspect of economic development and public policy concern in most countries, scholarly research about their entrepreneurial activities is comparatively scarce.  The role of enterprises as agents in the labour market for creation of employment, wealth creation, poverty alleviation and provision of resources has helped tremendously to increase the number of women–owned entrepreneurial ventures in the world.  The emergence of the private sector as the major participant/player in the industrial development of many countries has also improved women’s access in employment opportunities as against when they experienced denial in employment opportunities as wage workers because of their family responsibilities, lack of skills, social and cultural barriers (Josiane, 1998).

To cope with these challenges, the development of self- employment, especially in the area of SMEs became the last resort for them (Thomson, 2002).  SMEs contribute more than 50% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of most nations both developed and less developed (Oyekanmi, 2004; Uchwukwu, 2004; Ojo, 2006). Its contributions to economic development have been predominantly in the area of job creation, poverty alleviation, environmental vitality, wealth creation and human capital.   Women enterprise therefore account for more than half of the operators of SMEs sub-sector and they operate more often in the agricultural, manufacturing, trade and service sectors (Kjeldsen and Nielson, 2000; Community, Women and Development (COWAD), 2004; Gelin, 2005).

However, the operation of SMEs involves considerable risks, hard work, enormous sacrifice and sincerity of purpose which cut across various obstacles.  The risks, challenges and obstacles (Ojo, 2004) perhaps affect women entrepreneurs more than their men counterparts, making their chances of success to be considerably lower than men (Hisrich and Brush, 1986).  Considering the various challenges and obstacles facing SMEs particularly in Nigeria which include; capital inadequacy, unavailability of the required infrastructures, shortage of manpower to mention but few, someone may quickly conclude that women are usually discouraged from venturing into enterprise development.  But today the story is a different one; women are starting and growing businesses at an unprecedented rate.

For instance, in USA, the analysis of gender creative businesses shows that the rate of growth of women –owned businesses is twice that of men and this comprises more than 35% share of all entrepreneurial ventures.  They generate over $2.3 trillion in annual revenue, and employ 18 million individuals (Bartol and Martin, 1998).  In Nigeria also, women enterprises are considered as an integral part of economic growth.  Their businesses contribute jobs, productive and distributive activities required for wealth creation both for family and nation’s economies (Soetan, 1997; Okunade, 2007).  Women activates in enterprises and SMEs enable them to effectively combine their productive and reproductive roles because the flexibility in hours of work which permit them to care for their children and also contribute substantially to economic growth (Soetan, 1997). This has made women to be regarded as the central focus of the economic development and public policy concern (Bagby, 2005).

1.2       Statement of Research Problem

In Nigeria, women who constitute more that 50% of the total population, represent a substantial labour force (Afonja and Aina, 1993; Soetan, 1997; Okunade, 2007).  In spite of their involvement in the commercial and service sectors, women continue to perform vital productive roles which have helped in the economic development of the nation especially in the periods of economic recession. A number of studies suggest a positive relationship between women’s participation in enterprise and economic development (Hisrich and Brush, 1985; Simpson, 1993; Buttner and Moore, 1997; Hurley, 1999; Kutanis and Bayraktaroglu, 2003).  Despite their participation in economic development through entrepreneurship, women lack access to and control over financial and other forms of resources.  They have borne the greatest burden of structural adjustment measures that are being implemented in Nigeria (Afonja and Aina, 1993; Barrett, 1995; Soetan, 2004; Usman, 2008).  In spite of this, researchers Yves et al (2001); Kutanis (2003); Aina (2003) have recognized the increasing influx of women into the field of entrepreneurship.  Buttner and Moore (1997); Minniti and Arenius (2003) have also reported the recent women’s organizational exodus to entrepreneurship in developing countries


1.3       Research Questions

Based on the statement of problem, the following research questions were addressed;

(i)        What are the factors that motivate women enterprise across different industrial sectors in Lagos Island, Nigeria?

(ii)       What are the challenges of women starting a new business in textile seller in Lagos Island?

(iii)     Is there significant relationship between the factors that motivate women enterprise and the challenges they face in their businesses?

(iv)  Do motivational factors determine women enterprise’s type of business ownership?

(v)       Is there significant relationship between environmental factors and women enterprises motivation?

1.4       Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to determine the challenges of women starting a new business with reference to textile seller in Lagos Island. The specific objectives include the following;

(i)        To examine the factors that motivates women enterprises across different industrial sectors in the Lagos Island, Nigeria.

(ii)       To analyze the relationship between motivation and the performance of women in SMEs sub-sector.

(iii)     To determine the relationship between the factors that motivate women enterprise and the challenges they face in start up business.

(iv)      To examine the relationship between the factors that motivates women enterprises and their type of business ownership.

(v)       To determine if there is significant relationship between environmental factors and women entrepreneurial motivation.

1.5       Significance of the Study

The findings of this research work are significant for several reasons.  Most importantly, this research work will throw more light on the challenges of women enterprises in the Nigerian economy. The result of this study will help consultants/researchers and policy operators on women entrepreneurship to understand the nature of motivational patterns better so as to help women to make informed business decisions.  This study will help in understanding the extent to which the rate of enterprise growth is influenced by women entrepreneurs’ performances.  The result of this study can help women enterprises who are seeking information on how to handle their business and environmental challenges.  It can also help government in policy formulation on women entrepreneurship development and contribute positively to the body of knowledge. It will create an opportunity for further research on motivation and women entrepreneurship. This study will result in the formulation of special policy decision on women enterprise, particularly for ministry of women development, special business related groups, operators of inter-industry relationship and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) on women affairs.  These groups are expected to utilize the outcome of this research for operative and implementation of polices at both micro and macro levels.  Also in Nigeria, where entrepreneurship development is still lacking solid bearing, the outcome will be capable of restructuring policies, curricula and institutional based programmes, particularly, as relating to re-design of skills and strategies for women in business.

1.6       Scope of the Study

This study is targeted to assess the challenges of women enterprises in the Nigerian economy using the textile seller in Lagos Island as case study government area of the metropolitan Lagos in Nigeria. Lagos Island is the principal and central local in the state has been selected as the scope of this study.

1.7       Limitation of the Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher encountered some challenges.  These include unavailability of sufficient finance, inability to access the required materials for the completion of the work, the time lag in meeting up with the dead line for submission of the work and others. Nonetheless, such challenges were not allowed to diminish the enthusiasm level in accomplishing stated objectives and hypothesis.

1.8       The Structure of the Work

The work is divided into five chapters.  Chapter one is focused on introduction while  Chapter two is the review of some related literatures/conceptual framework on enterprises, women enterprises and others, theoretical and empirical framework. Chapter three centers on the research methods, Chapter four examines data presentation and analysis while Chapter five looks at discussion, summary of the findings, conclusion, recommendations, limitation and suggestions for further studies.



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