ASSESSMENT OF SMALL-SCALE BUSINESSES AS A TOOL OF ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT: A CASE STUDYOF BORNO STATE

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ASSESSMENT OF SMALL-SCALE BUSINESSES AS A TOOL OF ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT: A CASE STUDYOF BORNO STATE

Abstract:

Small-scale businesses play significant role as a tool for women economic empowerment in Borno State but many underprivileged women’s capacity for wage earning and autonomous existence are curtailed and most of them are adversely disempowered materially and otherwise. However, women who are privileged to have been economically empowered through small-scale businesses have numerous constraints that hinder their productivity. Socio-culturally, the Nigerian women are regarded and treated under all circumstances as inferior to men. The average Nigerian rural woman engages in farming, fishing, petty trading, herding, commerce and industrial labour such as poultry keeping, cloth-making (weaving, knitting, sewing, dyeing), pottery and craftwork among other economic activities alongside their male counterparts. It is impossible for some business women to cope without depending on their husbands’ income. In the attempt to empower themselves, women have taken it as a challenge to improve their family’s welfare as most prefer not to be dependent on menfolk as is commonly found in patriarchal societies. The quantitative data instrument which is a structured questionnaire was administered in the form of interview using a multi-stage sampling technique. The respondents were drawn from the major streets randomly selected in the area of study. The type of trades engaged by small-scale business women and the spatial distribution of respondents informed the choice of this method. Three hundred and ten (310) questionnaires were administered to women mostly aged 30 years and below selected in ten (10) communities namely; Bama Motor Park, Borno Express Terminus, Custom, Post Office and Wulari in Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC). In Askira, Hussara (Mishara), Lassa, Tampul and Uba in Askira/Uba LGA the questionnaires were also administered. In addition, purposive sampling method was used to also select forty four (44) participants for the Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and six (6) key informants for In-Depth Interviews (IDIs). Qualitative and quantitative data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics and in prose. The nature of small-scale businesses engaged by women for economic empowerment in Borno State revealed that 69.1% of the respondents operate their small-scale businesses at the markets and road sides and majority of them do not pay for shops/kiosks as rent but pay token as revenue to the government. The respondents earned below N3, 000.00 only per week before they start their trades, while two third of the sample (66.2%) earn N5, 000.00 below per week after they ventured in small-scale businesses. Eighty two per cent of them have benefited from loans, credit facilities or assistance in the form of material or in cash from private or government financial service providers. Although, qualitative data obtained established that a significant proportion of the women claimed that the loans they have received were inadequate. Eighty two per cent of the respondents’ source their funds from micro-credit scheme and engage in trades like koisai/akara (bean cake), fried groundnuts, vegetables/fruits, grasshoppers and kuli-kuli (groundnut cake). As to the factors that influence small-scale business women, the findings discovered that women participated in small-scale businesses to supplement family income. The findings also found unemployment and cultural/environmental influences to be very high. Majority of the women said that they are given leadership positions as a result of their entrepreneurial abilities in providing the basic needs of their families. Data on the contribution of small-scale businesses revealed that a substantial proportion of the sample (73.7%) said that they participate in businesses to make them have autonomy from their male counterparts, while an overwhelming proportion of the sample (73.4%) attested that the trades they engaged in do not prevent them from performing their domestic responsibilities as housewives. In addition, 65.6% of the respondents are aware that women in kulle/purdah (seclusion) also participate in small-scale businesses for economic empowerment. Substantial proportion of the sample indicated that small-scale businesses are useful to the women’s economic empowerment because they made them to work as a team as well as provide them with a sense of personal achievement. The major predicament faced by the business women is government environmental restriction. At the family level, the women are ound to develop a cordial and friendly relationship with their spouses before and after they venture in small-scale businesses. The study also revealed that women and their husbands are both responsible for providing the basic family needs. Conclusively, the women were found to have assumed many domestic responsibilities. They also augment their husbands’ income and to be self-reliance. Based on these realities in the state, the study advocated that the business women should be encouraged by the government to actively participate in trades that are more dominated by men at present by providing adequate loans with free interest to further strengthen their economic empowerment. The study recommended that the women should diversify their business activities and not to operate the same type of trades.

ASSESSMENT OF SMALL-SCALE BUSINESSES AS A TOOL OF ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT: A CASE STUDYOF BORNO STATE

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