1.1 Background to the Study

For over two decades, the experience of Nigeria in the process of economic development has not been encouraging. This has resulted in low rate of most economic indicators.  More importantly, Nigeria’s over dependence on oil has contributed much to her economic recession.  The situation did not improve significantly until late 1980 when macro-economic variables began to rejuvenate as more development variables were injected into the process of her development.  The new value systems introduced include inter-industry relationship, restructuring of production and distribution processes, recognition of micro and macro enterprises, a new role assigned to development of entrepreneurship, enhanced international competitive power, economic restructuring, industrial development and employment generation strategies.  These were targeted to improve the citizenerys’ standard of living.  

The role assigned to entrepreneurship for economic growth and development especially in the developed economies such as USA, Britain, Japan, Canada and others made most developing economies to adjust their developmental concept and plan and see new enterprise development as very vital to their economic problems.  Entrepreneurship as the engine of economic growth and wheel that pedal the vehicle of economic development has been recognized for its importance in the area of job creation, revenue generation, poverty alleviation and wealth creation.  This concept is now identified as the central element in the theory of economic development (Schumpeter, 1934 and Josiane, 1998) and it makes up the largest business sector in economies.  It has been recognized as the driver of employment and economic growth (Culkin and Smith 2000, Peacock, 2004; Wang, Walker and Redmond, 2006).  

Entrepreneurship is important for the support of small and medium enterprises (United Nations, 2006). With an active Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sub- sector in the production process, developed and less developed countries are expected to depend less on large industries to drive their economy towards posterity.  This is because economic renewal and growth is expected to be increasingly driven within the vehicle of enterprise creation and the industry clusters.  Entrepreneurship is therefore a process that involves a willingness to rejuvenate market offerings, innovate, risks taking, trying out of new and uncertain products, services, markets and being more proactive than competitors towards exploring new business opportunities (Covin and Slevin, 1991 and Wiklund and Shepherd, 2005).   It attracts both men and women who are interested in profitable inter-industry relationship. To ensure adequate development and competitiveness in entrepreneurship, considerable research has examined the participation of both male and female in venturing in business activities, particularly those reported to have personal dreams of entrepreneurship.  This category has rapidly joined hands together to achieve success in business and enterprise development (Gelin, 2005).

Women are therefore becoming increasingly important in the socio-economic development of both developed and developing economies as they account for significant percent of the operators of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) (Josiane,1998; Kjeldsen and Nielson, 2000). Women entrepreneurs make a substantial contribution to national economies through their participation in start-ups and their growth in small and medium businesses (United Nations, 2006).  Their interests and activities in the economic growth and development especially in the area of SMEs have received outstanding interest of researchers.  Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) (2005) confirmed that women participate in a wide range of entrepreneurial activities across the 37 GEM and their activities in different countries have paid off in form of many newly-established enterprises for job and wealth creation. This notwithstanding, entrepreneurship is usually seen from the perspective of men driven economy (Gelin 2005, Josiane, 1998) due to its complexity, particularly its gender issues, the role of women entrepreneurs has not been properly documented.  

While women's entrepreneurship is a central aspect of economic development and public policy concern in most countries, scholarly research about their entrepreneurial activities is comparatively scarce.  The role of entrepreneurs as agents in the labour market for creation of employment, wealth creation, poverty alleviation and provision of resources has helped tremendously to increase the number of women–owned entrepreneurial ventures in the world.  The emergence of the private sector as the major participant/player in the industrial development of many countries has also improved women’s access in employment opportunities as against when they experienced denial in employment opportunities as wage workers because of their family responsibilities, lack of skills, social and cultural barriers (Josiane, 1998).  

To cope with these challenges, the development of self- employment, especially in the area of SMEs became the last resort for them (Thomson, 2002).  SMEs contribute more than 50% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of most nations both developed and less developed (Oyekanmi, 2004; Uchwukwu, 2004; Ojo, 2006). Its contributions to economic development have been predominantly in the area of job creation, poverty alleviation, environmental vitality, wealth creation and human capital.   Women entrepreneurs therefore account for more than half of the operators of SMEs sub-sector and they operate more often in the agricultural, manufacturing, trade and service sectors (Kjeldsen and Nielson, 2000; Community, Women and Development (COWAD), 2004; Gelin, 2005).

However, the operation of SMEs involves considerable risks, hard work, enormous sacrifice and sincerity of purpose which cut across various obstacles.  The risks, challenges and obstacles (Ojo, 2004) perhaps affect women entrepreneurs more than their men counterparts, making their chances of success to be considerably lower than men (Hisrich and Brush, 1986).  Considering the various challenges and obstacles facing SMEs particularly in Nigeria which include; capital inadequacy, unavailability of the required infrastructures, shortage of manpower to mention but few, someone may quickly conclude that women are usually discouraged from venturing into enterprise development.  But today the story is a different one; women are starting and growing businesses at an unprecedented rate.  

For instance, in USA, the analysis of gender creative businesses shows that the rate of growth of women –owned businesses is twice that of men and this comprises more than 35% share of all entrepreneurial ventures.  They generate over $2.3 trillion in annual revenue, and employ 18 million individuals (Bartol and Martin, 1998).  In Nigeria also, women entrepreneurs are considered as an integral part of economic growth.  Their businesses contribute jobs, productive and distributive activities required for wealth creation both for family and nation’s economies (Soetan, 1997; Okunade, 2007).  Women activites in entrepreneurship and SMEs enable them to effectively combine their productive and reproductive roles because the flexibility in hours of work which permit them to care for their children and also contribute substantially to economic growth (Soetan, 1997). This has made women to be regarded as the central focus of the economic development and public policy concern (Bagby, 2005).  

Issues explored by women entrepreneurs as listed in previous studies include their socio-demographic and economic background, the factors that facilitated or inhibited their decisions to become entrepreneurs and their experiences in entrepreneurship (Hisrich, Micheal and Shepherd, 2005).  Examining particular issues that affect and confront women in business is therefore very important (Ozar, 2002; Usman, 2008).  Consequently, their activities in the economy have received an outstanding interest of researchers. This study came up as a reaction to the research report of Schuttle, Boshoff and Bennett (1995) which suggested that male entrepreneurs have been extensively studied and the focus should now be shifted to the study of female entrepreneurs. It is upon this premise that this research work emerged. 

1.2 Statement of Research Problem

In Nigeria, women who constitute more that 50% of the total population, represent a substantial labour force (Afonja and Aina, 1993; Soetan, 1997; Okunade, 2007).  In spite of their involvement in the commercial and service sectors, women continue to perform vital productive roles which have helped in the economic development of the nation especially in the periods of economic recession. A number of studies suggest a positive relationship between women’s participation in entrepreneurship and economic development (Hisrich and Brush, 1985; Simpson, 1993; Buttner and Moore, 1997; Hurley, 1999; Kutanis and Bayraktaroglu, 2003).  Despite their participation in economic development through entrepreneurship, women lack access to and control over financial and other forms of resources.  They have borne the greatest burden of structural adjustment measures that are being implemented in Nigeria (Afonja and Aina, 1993; Barrett, 1995; Soetan, 2004; Usman, 2008).  In spite of this, researchers Yves et al (2001); Kutanis (2003); Aina (2003) have recognized the increasing influx of women into the field of entrepreneurship.  Buttner and Moore (1997); Minniti and Arenius (2003) have also reported the reecent women’s organizational exodus to entrepreneurship in developing countries.  

The above situation suggests that there must be fundamental and practical factors that motivate women’s entry into and survival in entrepreneurship.  However, works on entrepreneurship motivational models and theories such as Dubini (1988); Buttner and Moore (1997); Yves et al (2001); (2002); Ogundele and Opeifa (2003) have not been able to separate female entrepreneurial motivating factors from that of male.   An important concern which resulted to the significance of this research work therefore centers on the issue of generalization of entrepreneurial theories and models; whereby inappropriate attention is given to women with less evidence on their social –cultural tendencies.  On this note, Stevenson (1990) and Barrett (1995) opined that generalization of theories and behaviours about entrepreneurship may be interpreted to be gender biased and consequently they observed the following:

* omission and under representation of women as research subject;

* concentration on masculine as dominated sector;

* use of paradigms, concepts, methods, and theories which portrayed men to be more experienced than women and 

* use of men lifestyle as the norms against which social phenomenon were interpreted.   

Moreover, where the social aspect of women entrepreneurship has been studied, majority of the researchers adopted the same instrument applicable to men in conducting research that are women exclusive.  For instance, Hisrich, Micheal and Shepherd (2005) observed that attention was mainly on the impact of social context on entrepreneurs.  Applying the same instruments used on men as only sample on women entrepreneurs may limit the researcher in fully appreciating the impact of the same instrument on women entrepreneurs.  Gelin (2005) suggestion of “a detailed evaluation of the environmental context as a motivating factor for entrepreneurship” excluded the female gender.  Evaluating effect of environmental context on entrepreneurship without putting the interest of the female gender into consideration may offer a limited result to policy makers and this can further prevent the adoption and implementation of the best programmes and practices for economic development. Female motivational factors involve more than environmental context.  These include ‘glass ceiling’, family responsibilies, lack of access to credit, independence, desire for atonomy, acheviement and recognition. These have not been given considerable attention in recent researches of Olutunla (2001); Aina (2003); Ogundele and Opeifa (2003).  

Also, many studies in entrepreneurship and SMEs such as Otokiti (1985; 1987); Afonja and Aina (1993); Mistick (1997); Ogundele and Opeifa (2003); Ogunleye (2004); Hagen (2004); Mitchell (2004); Allen, Minnit and Langouitz (2006) which focused on the background, motivations, contributions, problems, accessibility to resources, behaviour, emergence, and performance of the entrepreneurs were based on male entrepreneurs.  Where women’s contributions in entrepreneurship and SMEs were the focus of researchers such as Soetan (1991); Minniti and Arenius (2003); Kutanis and Bayraktaroglu, (2003) the factors that motivated them into entrepreneurship were not extensively dealt with.  Hence, the activities and motivations of Nigerian women in entrepreneurship have therefore received little academic attention. The study of Aina (2003) which looked at the activities of women in Small enterprises in south western Nigeria neglected the area of their motivational factors (social, psychological, financial and environmental).  Research in this direction should reveal the parameters that can help to encourage more Nigerian women into entrepreneurship for their effective contribution to the socio-economic development of the nation.  The problem of this research therefore revolved around the following questions: what are the factors that motivate women into entrepreneurship? What are the relationship between these factors and the activities of women entrepreneurs in terms of (i) business performance (business growth, size, profits, market share and others) (ii) challenges they face in business (iii) types of business ownership (iv) environmental factors? These problems represent the focus of this research work.  

1.3 Research Questions

Based on the statement of problem, the following research questions were addressed;

(i) What are the factors that motivate women entrepreneurs across different industrial sectors in South-West Nigeria?

(ii)  Do motivational factors determine women entrepreneurs’ performance in business?

(iii)  Is there significant relationship between the factors that motivate women entrepreneurs and the challenges they face in their businesses?

(iv)  Do motivational factors determine women entrepreneurs’ type of business        ownership?

(v) Is there significant relationship between environmental factors and women entrepreneurial motivation?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to determine the motivational patterns of women entrepreneurs in SMEs in the Nigerian economy using the women entrepreneurs in the South-West Nigeria as case study. The specific objectives include the following;

(i) To examine the factors that motivate women entrepreneurs across different industrial sectors in the South-West Nigeria.

(ii) To analyze the relationship between motivation and the performance of women in SMEs sub-sector.

(iii) To determine the relationship between the factors that motivate women entrepreneurs and the challenges they face in business.

(iv) To examine the relationship between the factors that motivate women entrepreneurs and their type of business ownership.

(v) To determine if there is significant relationship between environmental factors and women entrepreneurial motivation.

1.5 Hypotheses of the Study

The following null hypotheses are considered in this study;

a)  Ho1 Different factors do not motivate women entrepreneurs across different industrial sectors in the South-West Nigeria 

b)  Ho2 There is no significant relationship between the factors that motivate Nigerian women entrepreneurs and their performances in the SMEs sub-sector.

c) Ho3    Motivational factors do not determine the type of challenges women entrepreneurs face in business.

d) Ho4 Motivational factors do not determine women entrepreneurs’ type of business ownership.

e) Ho5 There is no significant relationship between environmental factors and women entrepreneurial motivation.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The findings of this research work are significant for several reasons.  Most importantly, this research work will throw more light on the issue of motivational patterns of women entrepreneurs in the Nigerian economy. The result of this study will help consultants/researchers and policy operators on women entrepreneurship to understand the nature of motivational patterns better so as to help women to make informed business decisions.  This study will help in understanding the extent to which the rate of entrepreneurial growth is influenced by women entrepreneurs’ performances.  The result of this study can help women entrepreneurs who are seeking information on how to handle their business and environmental challenges.  It can also help government in policy formulation on women entrepreneurship development and contribute positively to the body of knowledge. It will create an opportunity for further research on motivation and women entrepreneurship. This study will result in the formulation of special policy decision on women entrepreneurs, particularly for ministry of women development, special business related groups, operators of inter-industry relationship and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) on women affairs.  These groups are expected to utilize the outcome of this research for operative and implementation of polices at both micro and macro levels.  Also in Nigeria, where entrepreneurship development is still lacking solid bearing, the outcome will be capable of restructuring policies, curricula and institutional based programmes, particularly, as relating to re-design of skills and strategies for women in business.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This study is targeted to assess the motivational patterns of women entrepreneurs in SMEs in the Nigerian economy using the women entrepreneurs in the South-West Nigeria as case study.  Out of the six States in the South-West, Lagos, Ogun and Oyo States have been selected as the scope of this study.   Also, among all sectors of the Nigerian economy (such as agriculture, manufacturing, service, oil and gas, trade, finance, insurance and others) this study is restricted to four sectors namely: agricultural, manufacturing, service and trade sectors.  The choice of these sectors is based on the fact that the works of Soetan (1997); Mistick (1997); Jaimie (1998); COWAD (2004); GEM (2005) are of the opinion that women are often found in these sectors. 

1.8 Limitation of the Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher encountered some challenges.  These include unavailability of sufficient finance, inability to access the required materials for the completion of the work, the time lag in meeting up with the dead line for submission of the work and others. Nonetheless, such challenges were not allowed to diminish the euthusiasm level in accomplishing stated objectives and hypothesis. 

1.9    Operationalization of Variables

Motivational patterns of women entrepreneurs in SMEs was operationalized into a mathematical equation as follows Y= f(X) 


Y represents the level of women entrepreneurship variables that are dependent on various motivational patterns in the agricultural, manufacturing, service and trade sectors while X represents the different motivational patterns in various sectors of agriculture, manufacturing, service and trade.


Y = Women entrepreneurs in agriculture, manufacturing, service and trade 

       sectors (the dependent variables)

X =  Motivational patterns in agriculture, manufacturing, service and trade sectors (the 

      independent variables ) 

Hence: Yi=f(Xj) , i=1, ….4; j=1, ……n

Y1 = Women entrepreneurs in agricultural sector

Y2 =  Women entrepreneurs in manufacturing sector

Y3 = Women entrepreneurs in service sector

Y4 = Women entrepreneurs in trade sector


X1 = Family influence

X2,  = Psychological factors

X3,= Financial factors

X4 = Environmental factors

If we explain this further, X can represent variables such as; family influence, psychological, financial and environmental factors. If we further explain Y we have:

Y = Y1, Y2, Y3, Y4, ……………….Yn 


X = X 1, X 2, X 3, X 4, ………………. X j 

Y1-n = f(X1-j)

1.10 Delimitation of the Study

This sub-section of the study gives information on both the empirical and theoretical 

statements that show the point of departure and areas that could not be focused upon in the research work in terms of definitions, concepts, principles and assumptions. The delimitations of the study includes the following;

(a) The selection of the sample size of the study was based on the population established from the registered names of women entrepreneurs obtained from Nigerian Associaion of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists, Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Association of Women Entrepreneurs (NAWE). There are other institutions that might have list of Nigerian women entrepreneurs which was not used for this study.

(b)  The use of Minimum Returned Sample Size developed by Bartlett, Kotrilik and Higgins (2001) for determining the sample size of this work.  Using another method for the sample size determination may offer a different sample size. 

(c) The study could not have exhausted the definition of entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, motivation and other concepts available in the body of entrepreneurial knowledge.

(d) The psychological and physiological nature of women makes it difficult for them to be in business alone.  In most cases, they are either in partnership business with their husband or in their family business.  This makes it difficult to determine their motivational implications.

(e) Women entrepreneurship is a complex phenomenon and can be found in a variety of settings and situations.  The use of one or two measurements may not capture the entrepreneurial landscape of a country. 

1.11 The Structure of the Work

The work is divided into five chapters.  Chapter one is focused on introduction while  Chapter two is the review of some related literatures/conceptual framework on SMEs, motivation, entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, women entrepreneurship and others, theoretical and empirical framework. Chapter three centers on the research methods, Chapter four examines data presentation and analysis while Chapter five looks at discussion, summary of the findings, conclusion, recommendations, limitation and suggestions for further studies.

1.12 Definition of Terms

Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is a process of doing something new and/or something different for the purpose of creating wealth for individuals or adding value to the society (Kao, 1993).

Entrepreneur: An entrepreneur is a person who undertakes a wealth creating and value adding process, through incubating ideas, combining resources and making things happen.

Entrepreneurism: Entrepreneurism is an ideology based on individual needs to create and/or to innovate and transform creativity and innovative desire into wealth creating and value adding undertaking for the individual’s benefits and common good (Kao, 1997).

Enterprising Culture: Enterprising Culture is the commitment of individual to continuing pursuit of opportunities and developing an entrepreneurial endeavour to its growth potential for the purpose of creating wealth for individual and adding value to the society.

Entrepreneurship Education: Entrepreneurial education is an educational programs that is focused on impacting students with issues on entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial education is designed to communicate and inculcate the skills needed to recognize business opportunity, organize and start new business venture to students or trainees (Brown, 2000).

Entrepreneurial Intention: Entrepreneurial intention is concerned with the inclination of a person to start an entrepreneurial activity in the future.  It is a key determinant of the action of new venture creation moderated by exogenous variables such as family background, position in one’s family, parent(s) occupation, education and training.  (Krueger, 2005).

Entrepreneurial Characteristics: Entrepreneurial characteristics are peculiar attributes that can be used to identify successful entrepreneurs.  These characteristics may include; desire for achievement; locus of control; risk taking propensity; proactive-ness, tolerance for ambiguity; creativity, innovativeness, competitiveness and others

International Entrepreneurship:  International entrepreneurship is a combination of innovative, proactive and risk-seeking behaviour that is across national borders and is intended to create value in organizations and the nations involved (Covin and Slevin, 1991).  

Globalized Entrepreneurship: Globalized entrepreneurship is new and innovative activities that have the goal of value creation and growth in business organization and entrepreneurship across national borders (McDougal and Oviatt, 1997)

Intrapreneurship: Intrapreneurship is initiatives by employees in the organization to undertake something new, where an innovation is often created by subordinates without being asked, expected or even being given permission by higher management (Brezeal, 1996).

Intrapreneur:  Intrapreneur is an employee of a large organization who has the entrepreneurial qualities of drive, energy, creativity, vision and ambition, but who prefers, if possible to remain within the security of an established company (Gibb, 1988)

Social Entrepreneur:  Social entrepreneur is a person who promotes social change, a person who opens up major new possibilities in education, health, environment and other areas of human needs. 

Extrinsic Motivation:  Extrinsic Motivation refers to motivation that comes from outside of an individual.  The motivating factors are external, or outside, regards such as money or grades.  These rewards provide satisfaction and pleasure that itself may not provide.

Intrinsic Motivation:  Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards, such as money or grades. The motivation comes from the pleasure one gets from the task itself or from the sense of satisfaction in completing or even working on a task.

Creativity: Creativity (or "creativeness") is a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts. It has been said, consists largely of re-arranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know.

Empowerment:  Empowerment is a process aimed at consolidating, maintaining or changing the nature and distribution of power in a particular cultural context.  The concept of empowerment ranges from encouraging people to play a more active role in their work through involving them in taking responsibility to enabling them to make more and bigger decisions without having to refers to someone higher in position

Women Empowerment Programmes:   This Emphasizes mainly on meeting women needs in terms of; increasing the participation of grassroots women in bank activities; institutionalizing gender perspective in bank projects and programmes, increasing bank investment in women’s health services, education, agriculture, land ownership, employment and financial services.


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