Helping Women Entrepreneurs Thrive in an Emerging Economy

Helping Women Entrepreneurs Thrive in an Emerging Economy


‘’ Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters’’   Ezekiel 19:10King James Version (KJV)

There is an increasing number of female entrepreneurs, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa,  making huge contributions to the rise of entrepreneurial activities in their countries. These women drive the development of their economy. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring Annual Report, women actually outnumber men in the entrepreneur space in countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia, and the report below from no ceilings show evidences that there are more female entrepreneurs in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world.                                  

Despite this fascinating statistics,  many Nigerian female entrepreneurs still face obstacles that limit their ability to build a thriving business. While some of these constraints apply to all business owners, irrespective of their gender, others have been identified to be related primarily to women.

There are more female entrepreneurs in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world    

WEM (2)                                   

Source: http://www.noceilings.org/entrepreneurs/

Some of these constraints can easily be attributed to gender stereotypes pertaining to cultural and social beliefs and behaviors, and are described below.

  • The level of business education- Women do not often have the same level of formal education and  training in business skills as men do. This according to ignited global affects their ability to build viable businesses because there seems to be a relationship between level of education and the level of entrepreneurship as well as sustainability of the business. A solution to this could be to enhance management capabilities in women owned SMEs. This is achievable  by encouraging training,  providing access to advisory and consultancy services, and providing mentorship. Organizations like Cherie Blair Foundation provide fantastic mentoring opportunity to female entrepreneurs in Africa.


  • Social/Cultural Norms – One of the norms in most parts of Africa (if not all) is that the woman manages the home. Time constraint as a result of competing demands between household work and family responsibilities, as well as mobility constraints are factors that often affects their business growth.  


  • Another barrier that affects women, particularly those with marriage vows, is lack of independent decision-making capacity. This to some extent inhibits the  growth of their business.


  • Women  often find it difficult to access funds and bank loans due to their lack of control  over productive resources such as land and family inheritance. This potentially limits the amount and type of investments that women can access.


  • Finally, many businesses thrive on networking opportunities which could be formed at informal gathering at 17:59 O’clock, over a bottle of drink, across the State of residence or even the Country. Women most times do not have the luxury of indulging in such social networking, and therefore may not easily achieve similar results as their male counterparts.


There are many other challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in Nigeria which I have not captured in this piece. However, it is clear that the role of women in driving the Nigerian economy is huge and all stakeholders must continuously put measures in place to encourage women in business.

One of such measures is to organise networking opportunities for women to discuss the issues that they face and provide support on how to overcome those barriers.

An impending women focused gathering is the women MSME conference which holds on the 14th of October, 2017  at Covenant Chapel Lekki. This conference aims to remove some of these constraints and feed the female entrepreneurial mind with streams of ideas, concepts and insights that allow her thrive in business – in spite of the glaring constraints. It is an initiative  of Covenant Capital; a business advisory arm of Covenant Christian Centre with mandate  to reduce poverty in Nigeria by empowering individuals and businesses with the tools to create wealth through – business advisory services, micro-credit schemes, trainings and seminars. To register for the event, please got to  www.insightsforliving.org/msmewomen .


Thank you





Three executive orders were signed by the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 18th of May, 2017. The orders have a strong potential to positively impact the operation of businesses in Nigeria, in the sense that when fully integrated & effected, they would help to eliminate bureaucratic bottle necks in government parastatals and result in a heightened ease of doing business in Nigeria. These should in turn attract significant tangible investments, both local and foreign investors.
The three orders are:
1. Executive Order on the Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the Business Environment.
2. Executive Order on Support for Local Content in Public Procurement by the Federal Government.
3. Executive Order on Budgets.
Executive Order One (Promotion of transparency & efficiency of business environment)
a) All MDA have been directed within 21 days to publish on website and conspicuously paste within their premises, embassies, commission, etc, an up to date;
• list of requirement or conditions for obtaining products and services within the MDA’s scope of responsibility,
• processing fees and timeline
b) Acceptance and rejection of applications which must be communicated with at least two (2) modes, including emails and publication on the MDA website, before the expiration of the stipulated time. All rejections must be given with reasons and records of such duly kept.
c) In addition is “the one government directive”. Applicants are only expected to provide photocopy of documentation in a case where another MDA is in possession of the original copy of same. “Direct verification or certification of the document is the responsibility of the originating MDA”.
d) A tourist’s or investor’s visa application must be granted or rejected with reason, within 48 hours. Processing and issuance of visas on arrival must be transparent.

Touting, loitering and bribery by officials and non-official is banned and punishable as only staff on duty is allowed at the port. Only designated dignitaries, whose names are on a pre-approved list can be received by protocol officers. Within 30 days, all relevant MDAs must merge their respective departure and arrival interfaces into a single customer interface. Also, all agencies at the Nigerian ports must harmonize their operations into a single interface within 60 days and provide a weekly update to bureau of statistics.

There’s an order for every port to dedicate an export terminal for agriculture products within 30 days of this Order, and Apapa Port resuming a 24- hour operations within 30 days of the issuance of this Order.
e) All registration process at the CAC are ordered to be fully automated through its website, from start to completion of application, including the availability of an online payment platform.

Executive Order Two (Support for Local Content in Public Procurement by FGN)
f) All MDAs of the FGN are mandated to procure at least 40% of their requirement of some specific locally made goods and services.
g) All solicitation documents (invitation to tender) for the supply or provision of goods and services shall expressly indicate the preference for local manufacturers, contractors and service providers.
h) All Solicitation Documents shall require bidders to provide a verifiable statement on the local content of the goods or services to be provided.
i) All heads of MDAs are mandated within 90 days to;
a. assess the monitoring, enforcement, implementation, and compliance with this Executive Order
b. propose further strategies to optimize and enshrine the procurement and principal use of indigenous goods and service
c. submit the proposed to strategy to the Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment
j) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment shall submit to the President, a report on the Made-in-Nigeria initiative.

Executive Order Three (Budgets)
This order focuses on preparation of adequate and detailed budgeting by all MDAs.
k) Budgets are to be prepared in addition with a three-year financial model in conformity with the national plan and the financial and budgetary regulations, and are to be submitted to the Minister of Finance and Minister of Budget and National Planning.
l) Heads of ministries, agencies and government owned companies must supervise the process of preparation, harmonisation and collation of budget and take must take full responsibility of any failure to comply with this order.
m) No payment shall be made in respect of any capital or recurrent liability of an Agency, other than payment of due salaries and allowances.
n) Any revenue or other funds of an Agency in excess of the amounts budgeted and duly expended shall accrue to the consolidated revenue fund of the Federal Government.

Each one of the orders is set to make things better, nonetheless there are chances that the order which focuses on improving transparency and efficiency in the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDA) of the Federal Government will have a very significant impact.