By Ndem Nkem
Entrepreneurship once considered a man’s domain in Nigeria, has since made way for women as economic opportunities have risen over the years for women who want to start and run enterprises.
Unfortunately, while more women are becoming entrepreneurs, they seem not to be catching up with their male counterparts.
Women-owned businesses still face a set of challenges that continue to limit their growth. To shed light on some of these obstacles, Jumia Travel lists 5 reasons women-owned businesses are not thriving in Nigeria
Limited access to funding
This is the biggest challenge faced by women-owned businesses across Nigeria as access to capital is crucial to any small business’ growth trajectory. Women face greater obstacles than men when starting and growing a business, especially when it comes to venture capitalists, financial institutions, and other lenders; who are quick to deny their applications. Basically, even when the woman-owned business demonstrates a great business plan, have excellent credit and demonstrate solid cash flow, it must also successfully navigate through a process that tends to unfairly favour male-run start-ups. And when they eventually access required capital, the interest rates are rather steep and this tends to handicap the business over the long run. For women-owned businesses to thrive, it is vital for the Nigerian society as a whole to ensure that women have equal chances to do great things.
Critical Cultural Values
The times have changed, however another entrepreneurial challenge women entrepreneurs still face in Nigeria is that of cultural value or tradition. The cultural values across Nigeria are such that the man/husband is the head of the household and as such automatically expected to be the breadwinner. The male children are expected to toe in the line of their fathers and inherit the family business maybe, while the female children are usually left out of this entrepreneurial grooming process. A situation where there is a deviation and the women start to exhibit entrepreneurial prowess, it is assumed that she is being domineering and maybe even disrespectful to her husband, who should be the one in charge. This is very discouraging and has been a huge reason why many women-owned businesses have drowned even before they got the chance to swim.
Lack of Role models and limited mentorship programmes
Quality mentorship plays a huge role in the success of any woman entrepreneur and her business. It is particularly helpful for women to be enrolled in mentorship programmes or have mentors who have faced the same challenges they have. Nigerian women entrepreneurs, especially startups, however, do not have this support network and end up drowning in the face of even the most trivial obstacles. In fact, a number of female founders report that lack of available advisers and mentors has been a huge limitation to their professional growth. While there are a few expert organizations and groups like WIMBIZ e.t.c , more institutions need to be set up and women-focused networking events held to encourage the women so as to spur growth in their businesses as well.
This is a huge issue that has specifically affected the presence of women in the Nigerian tech scene. In Nigeria, a majority of people still like to think that certain businesses or tasks are better handled by men than women. You rarely see women driving a commercial bus, working as a mechanic or running a tech start-up as the society often assume women are generally incompetent in certain fields of work. Women now think twice before owning or delving into certain businesses because of the stigma that could come with it. And while you think this challenge may be uncommon, it actually has played a strong role in hampering the proliferation of women-owned businesses.
Nkem Ndem is a PR Associate at Jumia Travel.