The number of female entrepreneurs in Nigeria has increased over the years due to the rapid surge of opportunities made available to women. Some women have been able to break into significant industries such as agriculture, fashion, and technology. Even with these new developments, female entrepreneurs are faced with many challenges. The challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in starting and running a business have discouraged many women from venturing into business.
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Yes, reports have shown that a large number of small businesses in Nigeria are currently owned by women. However, just like many other industries in Nigeria, the business world is dominated by men. So, despite the call for equality in the affairs of Nigeria, the gender imbalance remains pronounced.
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Nigeria still needs to do more to make the business environment a level playing field for all; men and women. The government can do this by tackling some of the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs so that more women will be encouraged to embrace entrepreneurship.
In this article, I will discuss some of the challenged faced by female entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
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Challenges Faced By Female Entrepreneurs
1. Lack of Proper Funding for Female Entrepreneurs
One of the major challenges faced by female entrepreneurs is the lack of funds. While this is a common challenge for a lot of entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs are the most affected. Compared to male entrepreneurs, women face greater challenges in accessing funding. This is even truer when it comes to venture capitalists and other financial institutions which usually dismiss their requests for funding and loans for their businesses.
What this means is that even when the female entrepreneurs come up with great business plans, excellent credit records, and even impressive cash flow, they are still hindered by a process which unduly favours their male counterparts. When they are fortunate in accessing the funds they need, they would have to pay back at higher interest rates. This eventually results in their businesses collapsing or struggling to survive in the long run.
For female entrepreneurs in Nigeria to thrive in business, they need to have access to funds. Women entrepreneurs contribute significantly to the Nigerian society therefore, the government should ensure it provides her with all she needs to succeed in business. Some loan and grant opportunities should be made available specifically for women entrepreneurs. Also, they should also receive loans with the same conditions as their male counterparts.
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2. Limited Access To Training And Equipment
For an individual to succeed in business, they need to have adequate knowledge of their industry. They also need to have the most recent and sophisticated equipment to carry out business operations. A business owner needs to consistently display proficiency or risk being overshadowed by other more endowed people in similar fields.
Gaining access to necessary training and equipment could be quite costly for both male and female entrepreneurs. There are organizations that have taken up the responsibility of making these training available to entrepreneurs either for free or at a subsidized rate. However, just like in accessing funds, female entrepreneurs are at a disadvantage. This is because preference is given to male entrepreneurs who are considered more likely to succeed in business.
Sometimes, women are perceived as incompetent and so are discriminated against. Even though the government is stepping up by setting up different programs that equip women, these are sometimes insufficient and inefficient in catering for the need of women entrepreneurs.
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3. Societal Norms and Traditions
Another major challenge faced by female entrepreneurs in Nigeria is posed by the norms and traditions upheld by society. A common tradition in Nigerian societies is the recognition of men as the heads of their homes. As such, they are expected to provide for the home while women are considered caregivers. They are expected to spend most of their time keeping the home while being submissive to their husbands.
Imagine a situation where a woman decides to deviate from the norm and venture into entrepreneurship. The society views her as attempting to dominate her husband as opposed to being submissive to him. This could cause strife in her marriage as not many men would approve of their wives becoming more than just designated housewives.
Single female entrepreneurs in Nigeria are not exempt from such norms and traditions. The society expects women to be content with being housewives, thus, the unmarried ones are continually pressured into marriage. These women are also advised not to follow career paths that may prevent them from properly enacting their roles in the home. This pressure is discouraging to an entrepreneur. Female entrepreneurs need moral support to thrive in business.
Over the years, some women have broken free from societal traditions that prevent them from soaring in an industry that was previously presumed to be solely for males. But, there are still a lot of women who face discrimination when they attempt to forge paths for themselves as entrepreneurs.
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4. Doubts About The Competence Of Female Entrepreneurs
This particular challenge is an extension of the discrimination faced by female entrepreneurs because of the norms and traditions of most societies. In Nigeria, like many other countries, there are designated gender-specific roles and occupations. What this means is that some professions are generally reserved for men, and women are expected to follow certain career or business paths.
For instance, men are considered more suitable for roles that require a lot of physical strength and analytical thinking. And a woman is considered unfit when she takes up such.
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5. Lack Of Role Models And Limited Mentorship Programs
For female entrepreneurs to be successful in any society, especially Nigeria, they must have access to quality mentorship. Women entrepreneurs usually lack the level of moral support that they need to prevent their businesses from collapsing under the weight of challenges.
Having access to mentors, especially other female entrepreneurs who have passed through a similar situation, would play a huge role in the success of female entrepreneurs. Because many women entrepreneurs are not at the top yet, this could be very hard to come by.
To be an achiever and succeed in the entrepreneurial journey, you need to have people who have walked the path you want to walk. When you have such inspiration, you have something to look up to. And you can say to yourself if this person did it, then, I can do it too. The challenge is that there’s a limit to which some successful women entrepreneurs can do. They can’t take on everyone. Thanks to social media because you can actually be mentored without meeting the person by consuming their content. Location is no longer a barrier.
The world of entrepreneurship entails a great deal of pressure, and for female entrepreneurs in Nigeria, it could be quite discouraging. As we continue to call on society to give equal opportunities to both male and female entrepreneurs, women have to keep thriving by all means. We have to shatter those glasses and stay winning.
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