Academic journal article International Journal of Entrepreneurship

Poverty among Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs: A Call for Diversification of Sustainable Livelihood in Agricultural Entrepreneurship

Academic journal article International Journal of Entrepreneurship

Poverty among Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs: A Call for Diversification of Sustainable Livelihood in Agricultural Entrepreneurship

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Poverty knows no boundaries. It is a world-wide epidemic that will continue spreading like wild fire to destroy its victims if nothing is done to curtail its power. A World Bank report (2013) indicates that 21 percent of people in developing countries lived at or below $1.25 a day in 2010; this report also projects that approximately 1 billion people will be living in extreme poverty in 2015.

A closer look at the population affected by poverty suggests women and children are at higher risk than men in both developed and developing nations. Shriver's (2014) report on women and poverty, for example, indicated that one in three American women is either in poverty or at the brink of it; and although women outnumber men in the United States' workforce, the average earnings of a female is 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make.

The poverty, inequity and injustice women experience deepen as one looks at various categories of women and their social strata. Women of color, for instance, are more affected than those of a different race and ethnicity. The disparities widen as one travels abroad. According to Olateru-Olagbegi and Afolabi (2012), women and children are heavily affected by the burden of poverty due to cultural and religious beliefs, which tend to encourage "gender discrimination and low social status" that keep women from competing comparably with their male counterparts.

To survive and fulfill their traditional roles as mother, wife and perpetuator of the traditional way of life, many Nigerian women in rural areas often turn to production and sales of farm products and to other petty trading for sustenance. Unfortunately, making a living from small- scale agricultural farming and petty trading is daunting for Nigerian farmers, including women.

Agricultural farming in Nigeria is still capital and labor intensive. Producing and processing farm products require long hours using traditional methods. Despite the challenges, ranging from lack of capital to increased family financial commitments to strong competition from big agriculture, some farmers have turned the situation around by "growing specialized products and connecting with consumers through the farmers market and community supported agricultural programs" (Lunsford 2006, p. 169).

Nigeria, officially known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a constitutional republic divided into 36 states with Abuja being the federal capital in Niger state. Each of the states is divided into many local governments headed by state governors and local government chairpersons. The local governments consist of a combination of urban and rural areas. According to World Bank 2012 Report, Nigeria has a population of 168.8 million. Its largest cities are Lagos (11 million), Kano (3.3 million), Ibadan (3.1), and Kaduna (1.5 million) while the rest of the country consists of small cities, towns, and villages. Kogi state, which is the central focus of this study, was created in 1991 from two older states, Ilorin and Benue. Kogi State is located in the North Central Region of the country with its capital in Lokoja at the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue. It consists of twenty-one local governments.

Nigeria is a "middle income, mixed economy and emerging market with financial, service, communications, and technology and entertainment sector" (World Bank, 2012). The Nigerian economy is also the second-largest in the African continent and 30th in the world in terms of GDP, which was 262.6 billion in 2012. Although women constitute about 49.7 percent of the Nigerian population of 168.8 million, they still experience gender discrimination and low status in every economic segment. For instance, "the concept of co-ownership is rare in the Nigerian culture; the presumption is that all properties belong to the man, even where the woman contributed financial and in kind to the acquisition of the property" Wildaf-ao. …

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