Women Entrepreneurs in Northern Nigeria: The Big Push-Pull Framework
Entrepreneurship generally means the orientation of individuals into the business environment through investment. This venture is open to both genders provided by the willingness and ability to work in conjunction in a sacrifice. However, in the Nigerian society, women’s participation in business is a queer phenomenon hotly debated since time immemorial. The background claims that most people put the blame on religion and stereotypes besides huge customary proclivity. Indeed, a conceptual presented framework epitomizes the dynamics of interplay on womanhood by determining two significant consequences: no consequence and positive consequence.
However, there has been aspect of rejection regarding women’s participation in business. Despite the formidable efforts made by the government and women society in order to promote the idea, it has been faced with great challenges ranging from religion, competition as well as a lack of coherent attitude towards women in business. This paper examines the influence and stimuli that operate in womanhood, and, as a result, appropriate and meaningful initiatives, incentives, policies and awareness, which meet the needs of women and their choice of career as women entrepreneurs, particularly in northern Nigeria. Consequently, it represents a positive injection (push) and a denial of participation (pull) for women, who want to do business (Lawanson, 2003).
Nigeria is a huge country in the scope and perspective of the African continent with an approximate population value of 150 million people. The participation of women in the business sector has been characterized with many challenges including the Islamic resistance in the northern regions of the country. Besides, the country has had a series of civil wars alongside a long duration of brutal military dictatorship that has further deteriorated the already bad situation. This has indeed resulted in a poor business environment to encourage women’s participation in business (Sheikh, 2004).
However, women in the current Nigerian society are gradually coming out of the grilled cocoons that shielded them from participation in business. To achieve this gender parity resolution, there have been many governmental initiatives put in place today and aimed at strengthening women occupation in business and management positions. Besides, they were pointed towards providing the necessary business environment that would act as an incentive to lure the majority of women into business. According to the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce, women entrepreneurs technically refer to any female individuals, who undertake the organization and management of any profit-oriented enterprise characterized by risks and initiatives.
Despite the heavy endowment of the country with oil deposits ranking second in the oil continent production, approximately 70 percent of its population lives below the poverty level. Indeed, women have been sidelined not only in the private sector but also in the government, as well. For instance, the government gains a lot of benefits from the sale of oils. However, many country benefits are used for the payment of the civil servants’ salaries comparable with the developed nations. Nevertheless, women citizens are sidelined from this benefit with a paramount focus on men.
On the contrary, women are left out for the domestic-based micro-enterprises including cooking, tertiary street sales and beauty parlor in the respective homes of women, who can afford such services. Indeed, the expansion of women in businesses can imply a positive implication on the Nigerian economy. However, the country remains tight-fixed on men entrepreneurs and overlooks women venture into the business world. This makes the country’s economy predominantly dependent on the poorly distributed incomes from the oil sector (Suswan, 2010).
In order to understand the basic concepts behind the Nigerian women along the northern stretch, this paper makes a strong proposal about influences that provoke career ‘“consequences” for women of the northern Nigerian region: the Big Push Pull model. The model conceptualizes the influences at the macro and micro levels as well as accommodating of ‘self’ reflection. The push-pull model introduces the two main forces referred to as the Push and Pull. Within these forces, there are factors that can be determined as either impinging or propelling women into entrepreneurship activity, which are identified as the consequences (Pittin, 2002).
The push-pull factors affect women in business along the northern stretch of Nigeria. Indeed, the vast majority of business women in the northern Nigeria are confined to petty businesses and small cottage industries similar to the case of Indian women enterprises. The push and pull factors have encouraged the majority of women to participate in business through independent occupation and empowerment on self-decision-making capacity. Without a doubt, they have been the outstanding effects of women’s career motivational factor. Under the prescribed influence of such push and pull factors, women entrepreneurs select the requisite profession as a challenge and zeal to establish new-fangled activities besides the domestic chores. These aspects are commonly known as the pull factors. On the other hand, the push factors arise when women are in the business environment due to the family pressure, which pushed them (Pittin, 2002).
The consequential results on women, who are not engaged in entrepreneurial activity, the framework represents as “no consequences” while when a woman is actively involved in it, the framework acknowledges this as a “positive” consequence. Finally, the framework tries to encompass all the complex dimensions on women. This description of woman as an entrepreneur is greatly affected by geographical location. There is much to attribute to women’s participation and attitudes to a career by evaluating the culture, traditions, gender roles and religious convictions in which she is immersed. One cannot ignore the beliefs and values of society, and in what way it disturbs the relationship of women and her surroundings (Suswan, 2010).
The Northern region of the Nigeria has been plagued with random bombing, killings and terror initiated by a group known as Boko Haram. Despite this group’s radical attempts to destabilize the government, the north has long been seen as the more conservative, traditional and religious abiding citizens which has placed the region in a precarious economic position and the consequential poor business environment, especially for the fairer sex. Poverty is highest in the north along with infant mortality, crime, unemployment, illiteracy, poor infrastructure, and little to no economic development. In spite of the capital city being based in the northern region, very little of the capital’s revenue is seen in the remaining 18 states (Pierce, 2003). The diverse indifferences with regard to the trading relations between the northern and the southern parts of the country are destabilized. Indeed, there is evidence that these differences have direct impact on a women’s potential as an entrepreneur as the paper drives in its analysis.
Northern Nigeria is populated mostly by Muslims, and, in fact, Kano is the Mecca of Islamic Nigeria. Sharia law, which is based on Islamic teaching, is enforced in this region and often described as a conservative community with a mixture of cultures, traditions, and religions. Contrary to the stipulation of the Quran, women were not allowed to inherit farms or houses between 1923 and 1954.
That decision was rescinded in 1953, but the attitude lingers to date. In a 1993 independent evaluation of agricultural projects in the Kano area, the World Bank Report of 2009 indicated that the involved projects did not provide assistance to women, and there was no direct contact, showing the uttermost side-line on women in the region.
A Review of Previous Work
A great deal of material explicit to entrepreneurial women in general and some concerning women in business in Nigeria has been published, very little literature is available concerning women in business in northern Nigeria due to the increasing gender parity. This may be due to the concern of security and the difficulty to establish a relationship to the subject under study due to language barriers, culture constraints, religious convictions general logistics and conveniences.
Indeed, Kano, the second largest city in northern Nigeria, has a population of more than 12 million people. There are only two institutions of higher learning: one for women in the sciences (National Council of Women Scientists) and another aimed at “women in agriculture.” The latter group, however, is financed outside Kano, and in part, outside Nigeria, and relies on importing trainers. This demonstrates the acute shortage of manpower as well as pro-poor economic framework (Pierce, 2003).
Lately, however, there have been increasingly high upcoming women entrepreneurs in northern Nigeria, whose roots claim a heap of hardships towards the current status. For instance, Ismor Magoro Foundation founded by Hajiya Bilkisu Magoro is a non-governmental organization that deals with women and youth empowerment as well as gender concerns. This also marks a tremendous milestone in the development of Northern Nigeria as a region characterized by equality and business venture for both men and women. Indeed, Hajiya, who is also a married lady, practices politics as well as consultancy, besides her immense desire to business venture. This is a clear implication of the positive consequences of the push factors. Indeed, the lady also assists other Nigerian women to reach the same point of social-economic freedom (Midamba & Ekechi, 1995).
In addition, other women enterprises have also cropped up in the business environment of the Northern Nigeria. This is a clear illustration of innovativeness on the part of woman. The case example is the Aveco Waters Limited, which is an initiative of Mrs. Irene Isaac. It provided employment for the vast majority of youths. This business enterprise is one of the most innovative ones in the field, demonstrating the high pitched potential of women in the Northern region, given the opportunity and enabling environment. Indeed, this enterprise maintains its esteemed role and responsibility in the corporate world through the provision of free products to the neighborhood.
Finally, in the context of this paper, Fatima Aliko Mohammed has also been a shrewd woman entrepreneur, who spearheaded the publishing of draft bill magazine. This woman marked a noteworthy improvement in the Nigerian treatment on the fairer sex. In fact, she was appointed as one of the few women in the legal drafting department in the Ministry of Justice. Consequently, in April 2010, Fatima was nominated to Barack Obama’s presidential summit focusing on entrepreneurship by the US federal government. Fatima mainly publishes magazines on topical issues of legislative arm of the government, child rights, as well as the law makers (Rasmussen, 1990).
Furthermore, women have benefited from the increased dry season farming on Fulani lands in a number of direct and indirect ways. There has been a varying gender role in the field as well. Indeed, the women’s direct role in the field is limited. On the contrary, they are heavily involved in food processing and the preparation of market. Particularly for women land owners, there are increased opportunities of renting. Consequently, rural women’s workload may have increased, and, therefore, the benefits justify the extra effort. For the family, as well as for their own incomes, women felt that the changes associated with the ADP had been positive, even if they had not been directed to them (Rasmussen, 1990).
However, the push force of confinement by the Islamic culture in Nigeria often discourages women from going outside their home compounds for business activities and other professional arena. Indeed, they are expected to be submissive to their husbands. In addition, poor beliefs within the Muslim community that a woman’s primary responsibility is to fulfill her roles as a wife and mother further deprives women entity and movement to embrace the business world in the Northern Nigeria, where Islamic religion is beaming. This is one of the socio-cultural factors underpinning the difficulties women confront, when they consider entering the professional job market or the field of entrepreneurship (Midamba & Ekechi, 1995).
Other push factors come into play, when married women have to sacrifice a great deal in order to succeed in business. Indeed, they are not expected to focus on their careers, especially after childbirth. In many cases, women face conflicts with their husbands over such issues. Moreover, women from northern Nigeria are subject to cultural pressures that impact the larger society and non-debatable religious doctrines, which are inherited from community spiritual leaders.
In the global scene, SMEs are considered to be the most viable means of employment and tax generation and, thus, an economic pillar of the relevant economies. The large population provides a huge market pool of both manufactured and natural commodities. However, the development and flourishing of SMEs are hampered by the existence of a biased government because of poor fiscal policies and strategies. In the Northern region, for instance, the opportunities for venture into business activities have been largely closed to women over the past decades. If effective measures are taken, the contribution of women entrepreneurs to the economic development of the country can be increased (Abdalla, 1981).
Family and gender influences are the key factors in the down pinning of women in the Northern Nigeria. Indeed, a sizeable minority believes that their husbands are unsupportive in matters pertaining to their entrepreneurial work. However, the similar number of women maintains the patriarchal values in their families or experience of familial royalty. Definitely, Nigeria is a “masculine” patriarchal society. Consequently, gender discrimination is a characteristic of such a society as Northern Nigeria and Nigeria in general (Abdalla, 1981).
Big Push-Pull Framework
There is current literature that introduces push-pull factors in terms of issues that motivate women to engage in entrepreneurial activity. For instance, according to Sexton, and Vesper (1982), Orhan (2000), Scott (2001), the push factors are considered to be the elements that drive women into business ownership such as unemployment and financial hardship. Unfortunately, family circumstances depending on the roles and responsibilities form the major push factors, which determine the milestone of woman in business. On the other hand, pull factor framework is considered to be the more positive factor that motivates women for business ownership as a career that is need for independence and autonomy, government incentive, access to financing among others (Ladan, 2005).
Conversely, this paper views the push elements as basically the force that “pushes” a woman away from pursuing entrepreneurship as a career with regard to the non-preferential treatment of women in the Northern Nigeria. Indeed, this research strongly suggests that the push forces are at the micro-level, which embraces social interaction in specific situations such as family, community, and institutional influence, while the pull forces impact on the macro level. This orientation is seen as a broad or higher social order such as at a national and state level including the socio-economic, environmental and political climate. The Pull force is described here as a positive and nurturing factors that support and encourage women to engage in entrepreneurship.
The push-pull model simply highlights the factors that impinge or propel women into consequences labeled as no consequence or positive consequence that is to refrain from entrepreneurship engagement or to make deliberate attempts for engagement. The predicament of gender-specific entrepreneurship activity cannot be comprehensibly portrayed in this short paper, but rather a synopsis of the most relevant and influential factors women face is raised.
Figure 1: The Big Push-Pull Model without Consequence
The big push-pull framework implies that two powerful forces alongside the two levels of exploitation, namely the macro and micro levels, act upon the subject of woman. These forces are visible and invisible breaks and barriers. The forces face the woman from the two complete opposite sides. Indeed, they represent the major challenges and strains that the Northern Nigerian woman goes through in the move to establish roots within and without the family backyard. However, these forces are paralleled ones, which act in unison against the outstanding capabilities for women (Nwaka, 2005).
The push factors represent the nation in general with regard to barrier to woman predominance in the economic sector and business in particular. These factors as stated earlier include the socio-economic policies established by the government to bar women from holding any public authority sits. Indeed, the Nigerian discriminative offer of the public service to women members is an imperative example of push force that pins down the women effort to denounce exhaustive capacity for performing economic duties. Besides, good offer in terms of national security is also an incentive for business involvement and entrepreneurship. On the other hand, pull forces include the regionalized and close range factors.
Women in the northern region of Nigeria experienced the intermittent bombing from the Islamic assailants. Furthermore, besides tight insecurity, the region also experiences heavy manifestation of the Islamic rules and standards. These were some of the restrictive practices, which devalued the women involvement in other tasks except the domestic practices. They also restrained women venture into the business environment. Women remain prejudiced while, at the same time, they themselves do not find the value of their active involvement in the national development through business enterprises (Nwaka, 2005).
Besides the two forces and the two levels of orientation, there are also two environments labeled as internal and external. The external environment is directly related to influences that is “outside” the woman – somewhat out of her direct control or where she may have little control to manipulate or change. While the internal environment is specific to the women—self, that is her self-worth, well-being, self-determination, identity, hopes, ambitions, and motivation. The internal factors may have direct influence due to experiences, education, and opportunities (Jeppie et al., 2010).
The friction at the base of the model has no bias to either the push or pull’s scope. These frictions are considered reality that is a state that is common to people. Such frictions include terrorism, gender role, and security, all of which are current and pressing issues in northern Nigeria at the moment. The frictions are the most powerful constraints to a woman pursuing entrepreneurship. They can be life-threatening, self-destructive, and potentially devastating at a national level. The Frictions may or may not be biased toward women and may or may not discriminate against entrepreneurs. The frictions are the undercurrents of the push-pull model that cut across all dimensions.
It may be debated that these internal factors do not have any consequences on the woman to engage in self-business ownership. Now, the big pull also includes two constituents: first, the external constituents are specific to her immediate and intimate environment: family, community, institution (religious and otherwise), values, and expectations.
The external and internal elements are supportive, positive, and accommodating for the woman. Consequently, she leans towards entrepreneurship. The loose pull may also be a perception or an illusion, but it compels the woman toward business ownership.
There are three important points about this model. Firstly, the push force does not change; there is no “greater” or “lesser” push despite its remaining a constant. Secondly, frictions may continue to exist, but do not pose any great threat at the moment. The frictions may be constant or diminish, but for the woman’s purpose, frictions are at a minimal level and the movement for women toward entrepreneurship becomes ongoing. Thirdly, pull factors are loosened and the woman moves outside the traditional role her forefathers had defined for her (Jeppie et al., 2010).
It has been observed that northern Nigeria depicts a strong big push-pull model, but there is evidence to suggest that with an increased loosen pull, the free market will see more women opting for entrepreneurship.
Figure 1 offers insightful reflection and intellectual stimulation for future discourse; it illustrates the complex nature that is at play in a woman’s verge for a career as an entrepreneur. As brought out in this paper, the pull factors are immediate, persuasive, and meaningful to the woman, one will not witness her activity in the economy as an independent business owner. The pull factors have greater clout and leverage in harnessing her to other roles than entrepreneurship. Presumably, if the push factors were lessened or insignificant and the pull factors remained constant and significant, the woman may still not feel compelled to enter entrepreneurship.
The push pull model is a function of three major variables namely: push, pull and friction. There are only two outcomes: consequence or no consequence. Consequence indicates that the woman may move into entrepreneurial activities while no consequence suggests that the woman will not move into such activities. No justifications for consequence or no consequence are given here.
Figure 3: Push-Pull and Friction Equation
Instances that denote dire consequences are the points, at which the amount of push force does not balance with the amount of pull. In this case, woman experiences dire consequence with respect to the force such as the self, social or economic forces. On the other hand, when the woman’s capacity to face the forces is greater than push but less than pull forces, then there are no consequences. On the same yard, when the woman’s capacity is less then push and pull, then there are no consequences (House-Midamba & Ekechi, 1995).
In summary, northern Nigerian women who engage in entrepreneurial activity support the notion that the pull factors have lessened so as to propel women to move into free enterprise. Therefore, the push-pull model may be a basis for evaluating countries with significant entrepreneurial data and statistical analysis to determine the influence of push and pull on women.
According to the 2004 GEM report, the perception of cultural norms in that country specifically encourages entrepreneurship. GEM identified five aspects of Ugandan “norms” in that culture: the high level of support for individual success reached by individual efforts; an emphasis on “self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal initiative”; encouragement of entrepreneurial risk-taking; encouragement of creativity and innovation; and an emphasis on individual responsibility rather than collective responsibility that holds that the individual is responsible for managing his or her life.
Looking at the CIA World Fact Book, the UAE had a per capita income of USD $38,900. Five million people lived there in the 2005, and the nation has the fourth fastest growing population rate in the world. It is rated number one in the world for migration, and ex-pats constitute 85% of the labor force. It has a very high literacy rate and, in fact, more women in the country are literate (81%) than men (76%). Ninety-six percent of the population adheres to Islam.
In a 2006 GEM report by Kenneth Priess and Declan McCrohon, entrepreneurial activities in the UAE were slight. The report noted that very few men and even fewer women became involved in such activities, but men were much more likely to become involved in a start-up or small business. Although more women responded to the same opportunity, the actual number was miniscule compared with the men, and only slightly higher than the number of start-ups motivated by necessity (World Bank, 2009, 2011).
China was undergoing incredible growth at that time, and when Kitching and Woldie published their paper in 2004, Nigeria had been under civilian rule for only five years. In their primary research in Nigeria, their chief methods were questionnaires and surveys distributed in Lagos and Abuja. Lagos is a coastal city, the former capital of Nigeria, and home to more than 12 million people. Abuja was basically created in 1991 to serve as the nation’s capital, and has a population of less than a million.
Lack of funds is considered a perceived limitation. If a woman is not aware of the resources that are available to her and her community, for example, micro-lending, group saving, and personal saving plans, then it would seem that the lack of finances would bar her from entering business for herself (Zakaria, 2001). A woman does not pursue entrepreneurial activity as brought forth by the figure 1 of the model. The push and pull factors may or may not be equal, but this research highlights that many of the problems identified among women have been to do with pull factors. It is conjectured that despite the availability and support of push factors, it may have little to no consequence for women to engage in entrepreneurship.
There is a strong presumption in Nigerian culture impended in the Northern region that a woman’s basic and sometimes only role in society is ensuring continuity of the family line. She is expected to marry young and assume the role of mother. In line with that, formal education of young women is not a high priority. Since sound academic training is often a major factor in high level decision-making in both business and government, most northern Nigerian women find themselves outside the decision-making processes that impact their lives. Furthermore, women have been conditioned by historical circumstances, religion and tradition to hesitate, even to be reluctant, to take high responsibilities in politics even when they have considerable education. As long as gender discrimination and cultural stereotypes continue to persist, the desire of the nation in achieving economic growth and development will be hampered. The Big Push factor would include a women’s educational level. If she is not able to confidently read or write, it would seem that her “self” as an internal factor would restrict any entrepreneurial activity.
Most Nigerians relate to some tribe, but in the north, the only two tribal affiliations that are politically and culturally acceptable are Hausa and Fulani. Hausa would be more accurately described as a major African language group. But the largest single city of Hausa speakers in Africa is Kano, and there, Hausa is synonymous with Islam. Mobility in general is at a national level in terms of road and transportation infrastructure, but instances in which a woman is restricted from moving outside her home or community re clearly a state of Pull. Despite transportation being a challenge in rural areas, her mode of transportation is often restricted to motorcycles. She is reliant on the availability and access of these two-wheeler taxis. It is rare that women have a driver’s license, drive a car, and have access to a car or even own a motorcycle. For this purpose, low mobility is an example of external pull factors (News, 2005).
Integrating Workable Entrepreneurial Models with Existing Social Mores
Despite the image of Islamic life as static, Muslims are changing with the world. In the present world, the shifting role of Muslim women in their homes and in the working world provides a new market for financial institutions. In order to tap into this growing segment of the financial industry, banks need to understand the unique banking needs of this vital customer segment and implement a sound training program to best sell and service them. Through training, banks can build knowledgeable, professional and sensitive staffs that are prepared to serve women throughout the Muslim world as this market continues to grow.
The recent rise in this market can be attributed to the increasing role of Muslim women in the workplace and the consequent stimulation of government absorption of women into the civil service. Responsible for controlling household and family finances for decades, women have also experienced new empowerment and freedom in how they spend their money.
With new opportunities for education on the rise and more and more women entering the workforce, women have become crucial target customers to the financial industry. Banks can tap into this growing market by providing banking services to their growing number of female customers and by training their sales and customer service personnel to better sell and service this important customer segment.
Today, many Muslim women have significant liquid assets, partly because of Islamic inheritance law. Islamic law dictates that a married woman’s wealth is her own; spending on the household is her husband’s responsibility. Muslim women are legally entitled to inherit and bequeath property, holding their wealth in their own names even after marriage, without obligation to contribute that wealth to their husband or their family.
The conservatism of traditional Islamic culture in northern Nigeria is well known, but the Muslim women there often face the same financial events that have compelled women in other Muslim communities to go into business. The events in other parts of the Islamic world could be valuable guidelines to help them establish themselves in entrepreneurial roles, and other Muslim women could become valuable role models.
An effort is underway to promote entrepreneurial activity in Nigeria. Rheault and Tortora (2008) argued that there are abundant entrepreneurial opportunities for women in Nigeria, especially in the SME sector. The environment for entrepreneurs in Nigeria, while far from hopeless, is nonetheless difficult, especially for women in the northern region. Part of this challenge is reflected by the failure of government efforts to promote entrepreneurial activity. (Ojo, 2001) contended that efforts by the government and concerned authorities mostly fail to yield the expected result. Unemployment and inflation also continue to increase.
As already noted, Nigeria is a nation characterized with economic anomalies. According to reports in the Nigerian Daily Independent (2010), the country anticipates an increase in gross domestic product for 2010 at 7% or more. Additionally, the current president, Goodluck Jonathon, announced in December 2010 that he was inaugurating a 50 billion naira investment in the nation’s infrastructure. None of this is of particular interest to the 70% of Nigerians who live near, at, or below the poverty level. Nigeria has a number of very wealthy people, but it does yet not have a local consumer class.
The viable capture of huge population base of Nigeria will be met only through the strategic planning focused on production targeting a huge market of 150 million citizens. Based on statistics from the CIA Fact Book, the GDP per capita in Nigeria is USD$2,300, while in Uganda, it is $1,200. Still, while 70% of the Nigerian population lives below the poverty line, only 35% of Ugandans are in that position. This reflects a truly astounding disparity in income distribution in Nigeria, which is more telling considering that many Nigerian women have no source of income (Kossmann, 2005).
The inequity of income distribution is particularly pertinent to women. As Suswam (2010) said, it is contradicting that women constitute over 50% of the Nigerian population and produce over 60% of the total output of national wealth.
Despite their contribution to national wealth production, they receive only 10% of national incomes and earnings. The gender dimension of poverty and inequality in Nigeria therefore shows that women have less opportunity for earning adequate incomes, access to education, health care, access to positions of power and decision making, less control of the formal economic and other structures of the society in which they live and work.
In northern Nigeria, the bleak situation for entrepreneurial women is further clouded by specific religious factors that have actually become law in that part of the country.
Literature shows that before the 20th century, many women were engaged in entrepreneurial activities such as production of food items from their homes or small-scale agricultural enterprises, activities that are commonly referred to as the informal sector. However, women who engage in these small-scale enterprises have not legally registered their businesses with the local corporate affairs commission or obtained a tax file number with the federal revenue collection agency, along with any other government requirements. There are few to no government records that recognize or protect women operating in this unregulated business context (Adeoye, 2010).
According to Pittin (2002), “marriage, children and productive life in one’s husband’s home is the goal, the dream and the reality for many Hausa women”. This suggests that many Hausa women cannot think of life beyond their traditional roles of taking care of the home and the children. The concept prevailing was that the males will work hard and provide financial and material sustenance to the family. It is the duty of the women to prepare food, look after the children, and ensure that everyone in the household is happy and content.
Hausa women do not generally find much support or approval from men within their community in gaining any financial independence or mobility. Joseph and Najmabadi (2005) pointed out that “there have been occasional notorious acts of violence against women in northern Nigeria that have come before the courts and received widespread publicity”. This clearly indicates that society does not give enough consideration to women and that the Islamic community is not ready to accept business ownership by women or to motivate them to engage in any entrepreneurial activities.
From this analysis of literature about the position of women in northern Nigeria, it is clear that it is quite difficult for women to develop entrepreneurial skills. Leadership is one of the chief qualities a successful entrepreneur must have. In this male-dominated society, the female entrepreneur struggles.
Some of this reflects false understanding and implementation of Sharia. The general belief is that Islam does not give women any freedom. This is a mistaken perception as it indeed provides some freedom to women, including the right to accumulate wealth. Islam does not prevent women from doing business.
The Sokoto Caliphate is a good example of a historic community that supported Islamic teachings and practices that became a powerful empire prior to European colonization, in which women were actively involved in commercial activities. The Sokoto Caliphate reigned at the height of the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries and supported a considerable degree of legitimate business transactions that gained access to international markets for small-scale producers, of whom many were women and slaves (Falola & Heaton, 2008). Clearly, Islam is giving due consideration to women.
Conversely, as one can witness more recently, local religious leaders of Islam along with fundamentalist communities may create “false” rules to prevent Muslim women from starting new ventures or working in organizations that challenge the traditional role of women. Jeppie, Moosa, and Roberts (2010) observed that, “women occupied a more prominent role in the Islamic culture of the Sokoto Caliphate than is the case in our classical image of the Middle East” (p.252). However, Islam insists that a woman must follow some principles aimed at her own benefit. But the majority of the men from this Hausa land will not accept this, and they may say that women cannot do business because it seems hostile to Islam.
In conclusion, this paper sought to explore the hardships that female entrepreneurs went through, especially in the Northern region of Nigeria with respect to the business venture. In order to achieve this objective, this paper focuses on the various aspects of women enterprise’s development, as well as their involvement in various government and non-government organizations. The paper addresses the factors of women’s involvement in the business environment, scrutinizing three main areas: personal factors, family, and gender-based factors. For instance, these are family responsibilities as well as market factors.
While some women have been part of the recent changes, a large segment of the female population has not; women in Nigeria have been identified by national leaders as one of the great hopes of the country. Further research into this specific geographical area may provide the necessary information for women of northern Nigeria to be part of that great hope.