The study assessed the role of female entrepreneurs in poverty alleviation in rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria. It specifically analysed the socio-economic characteristics of women entrepreneurship and assessed the contribution of female-owned businesses to poverty alleviation in the study area. The main reason for this study was due to the fact that most studies on the relationship between businesses development and poverty alleviation have concentrated on aggregate effects of small businesses on poverty reduction with little attention on gender issue in rural areas. The study employed primary data. The target population was all the women-owned enterprises from eight communities in Awka South Local Government Area in Anambra State of Nigeria. Data were collected from primary source, using questionnaire on a sample of 205 female-0wned enterprises. Responses of the respondents were analysed using percentages and the chi-square tests were carried out to support the analysis. The study therefore concluded that female-owned microenterprises have played key role in poverty alleviation among the businesses’ owners in Awka Division through income generation and job creation.
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.