The ami of the study is to describe the characteristics of Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs who have been successful in their business ventures. This paper attempts to understand who these successful women are and what are their trademarks for success. A questionnaire survey was employed for this study. Result are drawn from 75 respondents who identified themselves as female Nigerian Entrepreneurs, and who have achieved recognized success in their businesses. Provides an insight into the personal and business experiences of these women to give a broad picture of successful women. The study addresses issues such as personal profile, business profile, motivations, problems encountered on their way to success, and the success formulae.
Internationally, the 1990’s was designated the decade of women leadership. Naishitt and Aburdewe (2000).
This new leadership position has been most notable in the entrepreneurial pursuits of women. Rather than just climbing the corporate ladder of success, women are creating their own corporations.
A woman entrepreneur is defined as “the female head of a business who has taken the initiative of launching a new venture, who is accepting the associated risks and the financial, administrative and social responsibilities, and who is effectively in-charge of its day-to day management” (Lavoie, 1984/85).
Is a small business owner an entrepreneur? In order to answer this difficult question, one must compare characteristics and understand the difference between small business owners and entrepreneurs. Additionally, one must establish baseline definitions of a small business and an entrepreneur. Clear-cut definitions vary on what categorizes a business as small in the government's eyes, thus, size ...
In this research, we adopt a more general definition of woman entrepreneur as someone who is an owner-manager of a small business. This broad definition is necessary given the small number of women business owners in Nigeria.
In a study by Adeyemi (1997), the Nigerian women entrepreneur was described as “aged 41, well-educated, married with children, grows up in an entrepreneurial environment, has previous work experience of about eight years, runs a small business that has been operating for about nine years and of which she is likely to be the sole or majority owner, prefers to have her family members as partners or employees, has her first attempt at starting a business, uses mostly her own savings as start-up capital, was motivated by personal factors when she decided to become an entrepreneur, faced start-up problems such as labour, financing and economic problems but today, faces increasing economic, labour and cost problems, rates her business as “moderately successful” and attributes the success of her business to three qualities, that is, quality of product/service, quality of human resource and her own personal qualities”.
Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing segment of small business in Nigeria. With an increase from approximately one million businesses in 1982 to 1.5 million in 1990. before 1980, women own about 6% of all Nigerian businesses. Today, women own nearly 30% of all businesses, 50% of all retail business, and 10% of all service companies. These statistics seem to still indicate a relatively lower entrepreneurship rate amongst the female working population. Sharing this similar view were Scherer, Brodzinski and Wiebe (1990) whose finding revealed that males tended to have a higher preference for entrepreneurship than females. The difference in preference an entrepreneurship was attributed to one’s self efficacy and expectation of entering an entrepreneurial career. The findings suggested that social leaning differences could have a strong impact on shaping a person’s preference for an entrepreneurial career. Women lack experiences, either personal or vicarious, related to successful accomplishment of entrepreneurial tasks. This explains why women tended to have lower self-efficacy and career entry expectations for entrepreneurship. Thus, they might perceive the lacked of the necessary personal and vocational resources to engage in the venture initiation process.
The Study of Entrepreneurship Abstract The discussion in this paper is based on the different concepts and ideas of entrepreneurship which were culled from varying sources written by experts from the time of Cantillon and Jevons (16th century economy theorists) up to the present. It will also attempt to differentiate the various theories formed by different theorists about what makes an ...
Another possible explanation for the low entrepreneurship rate amongst women could be cultural conditioning, which might have the generated impact on channeling women away from the entrepreneurial division Birley, (1989).
The major finding of Birley’s study was that women needed specific opportunities to develop the feelings of competency and strong expectations for success to compliment their aspirations for venture creation and management.
Many Nigerian women had become entrepreneurs today basically because they recognized and seized upon a good business opportunity, while others were motivated by the need to fulfill their sense of self-worth Adeyemi, (1997).
While many had been successful in their business ventures others were struggling for survival.
The objective of this study therefore was to describe the characteristics of successful Nigerian Women entrepreneurs looking into the trademarks of success such as the personal profile, motivations and success, problem and success and formulae for success.
Definition of Success
In a research done by Ghosh et al. (1993), “70% of entrepreneur said they used net profit growth to measure their success, followed by sales revenue growth (61%), return on investment (50%) and market share (48%).
Of those entrepreneurs who used net profit growth as a measure of success, 38% considered an achievement of 6%-10% growth per annum to be an indication of successful business”. In this research, the respondents were not asked what they meant by “success”. Instead, we adopted the above definition for our study, that is, we assumed that the entrepreneurs used one or more of the above quantitative measures to define business success.
Some researchers had attempted to study the relationship between education and entrepreneurial success. According to Bates (1990), highly educated entrepreneurs were likely to create firms that remained in operation. Osirim (1990) cited similar results that high levels of educational attainment led to successful entrepreneurship. Romano and Lourens (1992) reported that the duration and relevance of formal education was related to the firm’s survival in that “owners/managers who had received formal education relating to the type of work in which the proposed business was engaged experienced grater growth than those without such education” and “completion of business/management courses by owners/managers was related to business success” (Williams, 1986).
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It was inferred in the paper that owner/managers with more education could be more highly entrepreneurial in future prospects and be more receptive to new managerial initiatives.
Other studies also revealed that fast expanding firms had managers who had tertiary and professional qualifications (Gudgin, Brunsjkill and Forthergill, 1979), but this might not be a sufficient condition for success (Lioyd and Dicken, 1982) revealed that although it was likely that formal education made managers more receptive to business management (Johns, Dunlop and Sheehan, 1981).
On the other hand, there were some studies which did not lend support to the relationship between education and entrepreneurial success. Stuart and Abetti (1990) reported in their study that advanced beyond the bachelor’s degree was negatively related to the performance of the business. In the paper by Romano et al. (1992), it quoted a study by Storey (1983) in which it was found that no founder of a new manufacturing firm had a university degree and 22% had no formal qualifications. In another report by Marceau (1984), it was found that most respondents had not received ‘advanced abstract education’ with most of them having gained technical training on the hop floor. Romano et al’ (1992) study of high and low growth firms concluded that formal education was not an important factor in small business success.
Most entrepreneurial women had to make choices about child-bearing, child- raising and running a household (Noble, 1986; Lee- Gosselin et al., 1990).
They must also assume the role of mother and family/household caregiver, which limited the time and energy that they had to give to their businesses (Stevenson, (1986); Hisrich and Zhang, (1991).
Collerette et al. (1990) cited that about two-thirds of women entrepreneurs devoted more than ten hours a week to doing household chores while Hisrich et al. (1991) reported that all the women entrepreneurs in China did almost all of the housework. In terms of family support, women were also less likely to have the full support of a marriage partner (Stevenson, 1986).
1.1 MEANING The classic definition of an Entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages a business undertaking, assuming the risk for the sake of the profit.” The word ‘entrepreneur’ is derived from the Old French word ‘entreprendre’ which was first used by the economic ‘theorist’ Richard Cantillon in 1755 in an essay where he used this term to describe a ...
Women entrepreneurs tended to run small businesses in the retail and service sector (Hisrich, 1986; Neider, 1987; Burdette, 1990; Collerette et al., 1990; Lee-Gosselin et al., 1990) and could eventually become big businesses (Steward and Boyd, 1988), although they tended to have slow growth (Lee-Gosselin et al.’ 1990).
Majority of them chose the type of business which they “knew the sector well” and “interested in it” (Collerette et al.’ 1990) o in which they “had had prior experience” (Steward, 1988).
Lappen (1992) reported that only 10% of women business owners had run their business for more than 12 years while Collerette et al (1990) cited that half of the women had been in business for less than 5 years. Hisrich et al (1991) noted that 60% of women entrepreneurs had operated their businesses for 1 to 5 years. Most women entrepreneurs started their businesses from scratch (Nelton, 1989), created their businesses (Lee-Gosselin et al, 1990) or had participated in founding of their businesses (Collerette et al., 1990).
Most were gaining in confidence and the businesses were becoming more firmly established (Collerette et al, 1990).
Lee-Gosselin et al, (1990).
Start-up capital was not most likely to come from personal and family savings (Lee-Gosselin et al., 1990; Burdette, 1990), investors and partners, and banks (Brown et al., 1989).
For most women entrepreneurs, it was their first and only business (Lee-Gosselin et al, 1990; Collerette et al, 1990).
For those who had more than one business, it was usually two businesses which were more often partnerships (Collerette et al, 1990) or which they were the majority owners (Lee-Gosselin et al, 1990).
Women-owned businesses tended to have their spouse as partner (Lee-Gosselin et al, 1990; Collerette et al, 1990).
Most did not have any paid employees (Burdette, 1990) or were less inclined to employ others (Nelton, 1989).
If they did, the number of employees were few (Collerette et al, 1990); they also tended to employ their spouse and children (Lee-Gosselin et al, 1990) and used more female labour than male-run businesses (Birley, 1987).
To answer this challenging question, one must compare both entrepreneurs to small business managers or owners and entrepreneurial ventures to small businesses. One must also ascertain the meanings of the terms, entrepreneur and small business owner. The definition of an entrepreneur is a commonly argued point, with several definitions having been given by many different people. The dictionary ...
A large number of women entrepreneurs were responsible for all management functions of the business. In fact, the majority owners tended to have small businesses and had to do everything whereas the minority owners tended to have larger companies and were responsible for certain management functions (Lee-Gosselin et al, 1990).
In terms of the time commitment that had to be put into their businesses, more than half of women entrepreneurs reported that they had to devote more than 40 hours a week to their businesses (Collerette et al, 1990).
Motivations and Success
Overall, Buttner (1993) felt that men’s and women’s motivations for business initiation were quite similar. The one difference in their motivation was that men often cited economic reasons whereas women cited family needs. Collerette et al, (1990) noted that the main factor that had motivated women to go into business was the desire for autonomy (such as desire to be own boss, desire to be financially independent and desire to increase self-esteem).
According to Lee-Gosselin et al, (1990), the idea to start the business originated almost exclusively from the women and it was either an old dream (11%), a desire to actualize oneself, to use one’s talent’s or be recognized by others (11%) a logical continuity to training or work experience (18%), or a need to control one’s life (2%).
Capowski (1992) felt that a strong desire to control their future and financial destinies had motivated women to start their own business. He stated that other motives for business ownership included self-determination, financial independence and belief in a “better way” of doing things. Scott (1986) noted that men and women had different priorities as entrepreneurs. Men tended to stress being their own boss while women tended to place more emphasis on personal challenge and satisfaction. Bachemin (1989) observed that successful entrepreneurs possessed an uncanny knack for identifying and exploiting untapped opportunities, had relentless drive to make the idea work, and had the vision and creativity to transform the solid idea into a profitable business
Problems and Success
Lee-Gosselin et al, (1990) study indicated that the most frequent problems encountered at the launching of the business were lack of confidence from banks, suppliers and clients, lack of start-up capital and family problems. The new problems encountered after the launching of the business were marketing problems, problems with associates and labour problems.
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Brown et al, (1989) identified four major problems as finding and keeping qualified professional staff; finding and keeping qualified skilled labour; making business profitable; and doing government paperwork. Dealing with psychological pressures (e. g. stress) was also a major problem (Burdette, 1990).
The two major problems cited by Neider (1987) were inability to delegate authority and tension caused by conflict between personal life and career. McGrath (1987) felt that women had a more difficult time getting loans, had to finance businesses on a shoestring and had to face prejudice.
Other problems encountered by women entrepreneurs included reconciling family and work, finding required funds for business and lack of acceptance of women in business (Collerette et al, 1990); being discriminated against in getting business credit (Klein, 1993); and management of business and personnel (Hisrich et al, 1991).
Thompson (1987) observed that a successful enterprise would normally become a prime target for competition. In many cases, the competitor might have more experience or resources, was able to improve the basic product or could cut costs and prices. He suggested three ways to combat competition; develop a better product; refine the product’s market niche; and offer a better service.
Einsmann (1992) advised the “environmental problems should be approached in an entrepreneurial spirit. By harassing the ingenuity and enthusiasm that the entrepreneur brought to the job, the problems could be tackled with the entrepreneurial virtues of actions, consumer awareness, creativity and a talent to form alliances. A pro-active attitude was particularly important when dealing with environmental issues”.
Schlossberg (1991) agreed that “companies should keep with consumer trends and pay attention to the environment and its implications for marketing.” Gazeley (1990) further advised that to compete in an increasingly international business environment, the successful business manager would need good rounding as far- sighted generalist. To avoid stagnation, more attention should be given to maintaining vigorous and competitive activities.” As a precaution to entrepreneurs to “avoid competition with large firms unless there was a niche to fill, and make a comparison of the types of products and customers with the competition’s offerings and strategies.”
Formulae for Success
Some research work had shown that women entrepreneurs were as equally driven to achieve success as men (Brown et al, 1989) or that entrepreneurial success was the same for both male and female entrepreneurs (Buttner, 19993).
In most cases, women entrepreneurs had to work harder to make their companies a success (McGrath, 1987) or to prove their competence as business owners (Buttner, 1993).
According to Buttner (1993), this was because women had historically been excluded from ‘old boy networks’ and had developed different networking strategies.
Majority of women owner-managers considered themselves to be successful and their chance for further success to be between good and excellent (Lee-Gosselin et al., 1990).
Some foresaw expanding their businesses in the next two years and were not considering giving up their businesses (Collerette et al, 1990).
Most women owner-managers were also reported to be satisfied with their business success which was attributed to the “customer-product” dimension (such as customer service, customer confidence, originality and quality of product); the entrepreneur herself (such as determination, hard work, concern with details, self-confidence); and their personnel (Lee Gosselin et al, 1990).
Scheele (1991) felt that more than motivation was needed to make a business succeed. When starting a new business, besides market research and business planning, one must also be prepared psychologically. This was because some people were better suited to the corporate world than to entrepreneurship. She cited four points that had to be considered to ensure success: the reality principle; the sole factor; the amount of risk; and the need to create a network.
Stuart et al, (1990) contended that experience factors such as age, years of business, management and technical experience were not significantly related to performance (and hence, success) of women entrepreneurs. Their study revealed that advanced education beyond the bachelor’s degree was negatively related to performance. McDonald (1985) also concluded that having entrepreneurship parents did not affect the success of women entrepreneurs.
Other factors that affected women’s entrepreneurial success included entrepreneurial experience (namely, the number of previous new venture involvements and level of management played in such ventures) (Stuart and Abetti, 1990); quality of products/services and the women’s determination, desire to succeed and communication skills (Collerette et al, 1990); market opportunity, people skills, financial skills, idea generation, previous relevant experience and motivation (Brush and Hisrich, 1991); high energy levels and skill in influencing others (Neider, 1987); ambition, self-esteem, competitiveness, achievement, willingness to assume risk and high need for independence (Schwartz, 1976); support and understanding of family members, especially the spouse (Hisrich et al, 1991); length of time in business (MacDonald, 1985); and developing network contacts (Woodward, 1988).
A questionnaire survey was employed for this study. The survey was conducted over a period of six months in 1992/2000. the questionnaire consisted of the following eight sections: 1. Personal Background; 2. family Background; 3. Previous Work Experience; 4. Background on existing Business; 5. Business Experience; 6. Motivation for Starting Business; 7. Problems Encountered; 8. Attitudes toward Success. The questionnaire comprised a total of 37 questions.
The questionnaires were sent to women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. The database was compiled from two main sources. We first contacted some established women groups. Those that responded to our request were the Nigerian Business and Professional Women Association, Association of Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs and the international Business Women Association. In order to reach out to more women entrepreneurs, we also sourced from corporate affairs which published lists of new companies and businesses registered in Nigeria. We selected businesses which had women directors, to whom we directed the questionnaires, as we assumed that they were part of the start-up team. The lists were traced for the past ten years.
The number of returns was not very high as more than half of the registered businesses had either moved office or closed down, or the addresses was reported to be no longer with the company. Out of about 600 addresses that we sent to, we received a total of 75 usable returns by April 2000 “Usable” returns referred to respondents who identified themselves as female Nigerian citizens. This screening process was necessary in order to meet the objectives of the study. Computation of the response rate was not possible as it was not certain how many of our survey questionnaires actually reached our intended subjects. The objective of the study was to describe the characteristics of successful women entrepreneur. The aim was to understand the characteristics of women who have made it to the top and how they achieve their success.
The women entrepreneurs were asked to rate the success of their business. One-quarter (25%) of them considered their business to be “very successful” while the remaining three-quarters (75%) rated their business as “not successful”. In this paper, we defined “successful” women entrepreneurs as those who had rated their business as “very successful”. Their characteristics would be compared with the relatively “less successful” entrepreneurs and their significant differences highlighted.
Successful women entrepreneurs seemed to be better educated than less successful ones (significant at P = 0.01).
among the successful entrepreneurs, 70% had a university degree whereas only 23% of the less successful ones were university graduates. Highly-educated people were normally perceived to face greater inertia in quitting their well-paid jobs and venturing into the business world, presumably because of the higher opportunity costs involved. But the findings seemed to imply that once these same people decided to become entrepreneurs, they tended to be more successful than their lesser educated counterparts. The reason could be that the higher formal education and training which they received at the university had equipped them with modern management knowledge and techniques. It had then made them more aware of the realities of the business world and more receptive in using their learned abilities to manage their business better. Another possible explanation could be that their higher opportunity costs had pushed them harder to succeed.
30% of successful women entrepreneurs had no previous work experience compared to just 3% of the successful ones (significant at P = 0.01).
this finding meant that to be successful, it was not necessary to have any previous work experience. In other words, a person with previous work experience was not more successful than one without.
80% of successful women entrepreneurs seemed to be “very satisfied” with their business experience compared with 33% of the less successful ones (significant at P = 0.05).
This was to be expected as the successful ones could have achieved their goals and thus felt satisfied with their achievements. Besides their entrepreneurial careers, the women entrepreneurs also had other roles to play in the family. Majority of them reported that they were required to do some or a little household chores such as cooking (65%), housework (63%), marketing/shopping (58%), childcare (48%) and coaching (45%).
For those who had to do a lot of household chores, the highest went to marketing/shopping (32%), followed by childcare (20%), coaching (17%), housework (10%) and cooking (5%).
These figures reflected the multiple roles of working women in Nigeria. Fortunately for most of them, the availability of maids, home tutors and childcare centres had provided them with the much-need source of domestic help.
Almost two out of five (38% women entrepreneurs owned one business. The rest owned more than one business. 25% owned two businesses, 27% owned three businesses while 10% owned more than three businesses. This worked out to an average of two businesses per entrepreneur. On the whole, 39% of women-owned businesses were in service, 29% were in retail, 21% were in wholesale and 11% were in manufacturing. About two-thirds (64%) of the businesses were private limited companies; the rest were partnerships (21%), sole proprietorships (14%) and public companies (1%).
The average age of women-owned businesses was about nine years. Generally, the first business had been around for a slightly longer period than subsequent businesses: 11 years for the first business compared with 8 years each for the second and third business. About two-thirds (64%) of all businesses had been in operation for up to 10 years; 29% had been in existence for between 11 and 20 years while 7% had been around for more than 20 years. If the size of business could be defined as “small” for those with 0-50 employees, “medium” for those with 51-100 employees and “large” for those with more than 100 employees, then 97% of women-owned businesses could be said to have started as small businesses and 3% as medium-sized businesses. Over the years, however, women-owned businesses had grown bigger and become more established. Today, 90% were small businesses, 8% were medium-sized businesses and 2% were large-sized businesses.
For women who owned only one business, their average share of the business was 62%. About one-quarter of them (27%) were sole owners, owning 100% of the business; the rest were either majority owners (43%) or minority owners (93%).
For women who owned a second business, their average share of the businesses was 51%. Only 9% of them were sole-owners, owning 100% of the business; the rest were either majority owners (48%) or minority owners (43%).
For those who owned a third business, their average share of the business was only 38%. None of them were sole owners; half (50%) of them were majority owners while the other half (50%) minority owners. It appeared that the women entrepreneurs’ share of the business declined with the number of businesses owned. This could be an indication that their involvement in subsequent businesses was more of an investment.
On the whole, 85% of women entrepreneurs declared that they had partners, with an average of two partners per business. In fact, the proportion of businesses with partners seemed to increase with the number of businesses owned: about three-quarters (73%) of women who owned only one business said that they had partner: spouse or fiancé (56%), siblings (24%) and relatives (21%).
Other business partners included their friends (29%) and employees/staff (12%).
This result seemed to indicate women’s strong preference for having family members as business partners.
During the start-up period, women-owned businesses employed an average of only eight workers. 6% did not employ any workers; and for those which did, 65% employed 1-5 workers, 12% employed 6-10 workers and 16% employed more than 10 workers. Today, heir labour force had more than doubled to 19 workers. 6% employed 6-10 workers and 32% employed more than 10 workers.
About two out of five (43%) women entrepreneur employed family members. The family members included siblings (28%), spouse or fiancé (20%), parents (10%) and children (10%).
Women seemed to show a strong preference for family participation in their business as about three-quarters (73%) of them involved at least one close family member in the business as partners or employees.
For 83% of women entrepreneur, it was their first attempt at starting a business. For the 17% who were not first-timers in business ventures, they had made one or two attempts before but the venture turned out to be unsuccessful. One average, they had been in business for about 10 years. About one-third (33%) of them had only 1-5 years of business experience; the rest had business experiences of 6 – 10 years (25%), 11-15 years (28%) and more than 15 (6%).
When asked where their source of financing for starting the business came from , 83% of women entrepreneur indicated that they use their personal savings. Other sources of finance came from family, relatives or friends (50%), banks (28%), funds over other sources of fund could indicate the self-reliant nature of women entrepreneur. It could also imply the difficulties faced in getting start-up funds from traditional sources such as bank. Most women entrepreneurs were quite heavily involved in the running of the business. 45% said they “did everything”, another 45% were responsible for certain parts of management work (e.g. strategic planning, budgeting, staffing, etc) and operational work (e.g. serving customers, ordering supplies, etc) while the remaining 10% were responsible only for the management work of the business.
The heavy involvement in almost all aspects of the business had made the women entrepreneurs quite confident in running the business. 83% of them felt “very confident” while only 5% were “not confident” in running the business. A high proportion of women entrepreneurs were also generally satisfied with their business experience. 45% said they were “very satisfied”, 50% were “moderately satisfied” while only 5% were “not satisfied” with their business experience.
Motivations and Success
The successful women entrepreneurs seemed to be the ones likely to have initiated the idea of starting the business than the less successful one (significant at P = 0.05).
All (100%) the successful women entrepreneurs said that it was their idea for starting the business, compared to 69% of the less successful ones. This finding seemed to imply that women whose idea it was to venture out on their own were more likely to perform better than those of whose idea for starting the business originated from someone else. Having thought of the ideas themselves, the women then had the drive to make their ideas work, and had the commitment and determination to transform their ideas into successful ventures.
Among the successful women entrepreneurs, the need to support the family also seemed to be greater than that of the less successful ones (significant at P = 0.10).
44% of successful women entrepreneurs rated this motivation as the most important factor, compared to only 4% of the successful ones. This finding implied that the need to support the family was a strong motivating factor for successful women to do well in their business. These women could have been placed in a position such that they had to ensure the success of their business they had to provide for their families’ financial and material needs.
More successful women entrepreneurs also quoted “to have flexibility and control over my life” (100%) and “to be my own boss” (67%) as their motivations for going into business than the less successful ones (44% and 23% respectively) (significant at P = 0.05).
this implied that successful women entrepreneur s were more personally motivated than less successful ones when starting the business
Problems and Success
At the launch of the business, the successful entrepreneurs seemed faced more social problems than the less successful ones (significant at P = 0.05).
67% of the successful women faced this problem compared to 29% of the less successful ones. This meant that at the start-up stage of the business, the successful women felt that they were discriminated against and were also not accepted in the male-dominated business community, probably due to gender prejudice. But over the years, this problem had been reduced in magnitude by 82%, compared to 37% for the less successful ones. This improvement meant that women entrepreneurs were now more accepted by the business community.
Today, the successful women entrepreneurs seemed to face less economic problem than the less successful ones (significant at P = 0.01).
Only 38% of successful women face these problems compared to 81% of the less successful ones. This finding meant that6 for the less successful entrepreneurs, economic problems such as stiff competition had affected the performance of their business more than the successful ones. The less successful women entrepreneur s could have operated business which were more competitive in nature and more influenced by economic changes, the effects of which could have eaten into their profits.
Formulae for Success
At the start of the business, only 18% of women entrepreneur s thought they had an “excellent” chance of success. The other felt they had a “good” chance (33%), an “average” chance (42%) and “below average” chance (7%) of success. However, non of them rated their chances of success as “poor”. This implied a reasonable high level of confidence amongst the women when they embarked on their business for the first time.
When asked how they would rate the success of their business today, one-quarter (25%) of women entrepreneur s considered theirs to be “very successful” while the remaining three-quarters (75%) rated their business as “moderately successful”. None of the women attribute the success of their business to the following five factors:
77% Quantity product/services
73% Personal qualities
66% Quality of personnel
63% Adequate knowledge of product/service
61% Customer loyalty
There appeared to be three qualities (3Qs) that women entrepreneurs considered to be essential for entrepreneurial success. They were:
1. Quality of product/service
2. Quality of personnel and
3. Personal Qualities
Providing quality product/service was an important hallmark of a successful business as it produced satisfied customers and led to customer loyalty. One way of ensuring this was that the entrepreneurs must have a good personal knowledge of the product and service provided.
A successful business also depend on the quality and commitment of its personnel. The ability to attract, motivate, train and retain human
resources was important to every business.
The personal qualities of women entrepreneurs were also considered essential to the success of the business- qualities such as strong determination, hard work, self-confidence, personal discipline and other desirable attributes.
Other Success Factors were as follows:
55% Superlative and strong management team
54% Visionary CEO
53% Sound and proper business plans
51 Focus on a market niche
51% Strong support and cooperation from partners
50% Good network system
50% Availability of finance and capital
42% Strong moral support from spouse and family
34% Adequate knowledge of accounting and finance
27% Technology advantage
18% Availability of professional advice or government assistance 78% of Successful Women entrepreneurs reported that having a good network system was essential to the success of their business, compared to only 40 “% of the less Successful entrepreneurs (significant at p=0.10).
This finding implies that networking, which is the process of building and marinating positive relationship with people inside and outside the organization (Koter, 1982), was indispensable to entrepreneurial success in today’s complex work environments. The successful Women strongly believed that developing such a network system was essential to entrepreneurial success.
The women entrepreneurs somehow felt that professional advice or government assistance were mot important to the success of the business. Most probably, the women felt that professional advice was not necessary as thy wee already experts in their own fields. The women also considered technological advantage to be of little importance. This could be because most women-owned business were in the service and retail industry which requires lesser used of high technology, compared with those in manufacturing industry. Of course, most women entrepreneurs believed that business success should not be left to luck or chance.
Conclusion and Future Research
Although their numbers are small, women entrepreneurs have contributed, in no small way, to the economic growth of Nigeria. They have been helped to create employment and national wrath in the economy.
Women entrepreneurs are self-motivated since most of them have been driven to entrepreneurship to meet their personal needs for achievement, identity and independence. The successful ones also hold a strong commitment to quality products/ service, human resources and last but not the least, to themselves.
This paper is an attempt to present a general profile of Nigerian women entrepreneurs. There is still a lot of scope to research more into the area of women entrepreneurship in Nigeria. For example, attempt could be made to understand why women have a low entrepreneurship rate and what could be done to encourage more women to become entrepreneurship. Perhaps helping women to cope with the five main problems (economic, labour, cost, financing and social) might be good start. Tapping on this pool of potential human resources-women entrepreneurs-would go a long way in nurturing the long-term growth of Nigeria.
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