Ever-increasing numbers of women in Nigeria have been choosing small-business ownership in an apparent attempt to escape their well-documented inequality in the labour market. With the just-released data from NBS, it was estimated that the overall number of persons in labour force was 80 million out of which males were 41.6 million while females were 38.6 million.
According to the statistics, it obviously shows that women are marginalized in the labour market. With the marginalization in labour market, some women decide to try other areas of expertise which is moving into small and medium enterprises. However, there are some challenges faced by women who want to venture into SMEs in Nigeria. In this article, we try to list some of the barriers affecting women in small and medium enterprises.
Lack of Skills
Lack of skills has been one of the challenges women face when starting a successful business. It has imbibed in them inferiority complex that they lack the capability to succeed. Nevertheless, such mindset must be altered as there is nothing unfeasible to accomplish in life, all it entails is a positive mindset and determination. Everybody must not be naturally skillful, there are proficiencies you need to learn on your own. You can pay to learn or enroll in free online courses to equip yourself.
Moreover, some commercial banks are offering free SME training, The likes of Zenith bank plc is offering free online training on exportation business. The idea of the training is to give anyone finding it difficult on the nature of the business to venture in a heads-up.
Traditional & Societal Limitation
Traditional and societal limitation is another barrier some women encounter when starting a business. Some traditions believe a woman is meant to stay at home and take care of the children & the household, such norm has left a lot of women depressed and frustrated in their marriages. As a woman, if you are facing such limitation, it is imperative you have a heart-to-heart conversation with your spouse, convince him of the importance of you having your own means of income and the financial ease it will have on him.
Issue of Unforeseen Circumstance
The issues of unforeseen circumstances have been one of the major issues affecting women from owning a business. A vivid example was what some businesses faced during the Covid-19 lockdown and vandalization of some people’s businesses by miscreants during the EndSARS protest. These incidences left some business owners’ bankrupt.
However, to avert such, it is advisable to get your business insured to a premium package. Premium packages cover 70% of your business from risk
For some women, what causes constraint for them when it comes to creating their own business is the issue of patriarchy and gender inequality. This ideology portrays men as dominant in the business world as women are meant to take care of the home.
Furthermore, some men believe that once a woman becomes too successful, she might become uncontrollable. This principle has kept some women at home as they have had to depend on their spouse to provide virtually everything they need. It is important for a woman venturing into a business to strategize how to balance family & business soas to reduce the possibility of such issues erupting.
Lack of humility
According to T.S Eliot, “The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility”. Some women have the mindset of having up to millions of naira before they can set up a business. Such mindset has kept a lot of women jobless. It is important to start with the little capital you have as you will be surprised how the business will surge & flourish in the years to come.
Lack of knowledge
Before venturing into any business, it is important to have a good knowledge of what you are going into which is the act of navigating. Thorough investigation, navigation, and knowledge of a business you want to go into is very vital, to prevent the issue of wasting your resources and time.
A lot of women make that mistake of not having a good knowledge of what they are going into, such businesses usually go down the drain within 6 months to one year. It is crucial to navigate and find out if the business is worth venturing into. Ask yourself these salient questions; who has done it before? what are they doing right? what are they doing wrong and what can you do differently in order to excel once you start yours? If you are not able to answer these questions you might end up making the same mistakes every other person is making.
Fear of failing
Another factor that women need to look out for when starting a business is a negative mindset. They feel the business they want to venture into is an extensive one. One key thing to note is, there is no business without a competitor. Your focus should be on how to revamp your business to stand out. For example, you are in a community, you want to go into tailoring, and everybody is going into tailoring around that locality, the question should be what will be my unique selling point? Or you are in Lagos state where event planning is a lucrative business, and everybody is going into it, the question should be what can I do differently to stand out? You will see some of the people saying, if you are looking for an event planner, Event by Bisi is top-notch.
Not opened to critics
Business is not always rosy especially at inception, negative reviews might come in from customers. Such reviews should not deject you rather it should inspire you to re-strategize and reshape your business. Customer’s review is important as their opinion matters for business owners. Once you noticed that your customers are not patronizing you like before or you are facing customer retention issues, the first thing to do is to find out what their reasons are. And the best way to find out is through a review. We are in a digital age and there are software and applications that enable you to determine your customers’ behaviour. Aside from that, you can put a call through or send messages across to your customers and potential customers to find out ways to serve them better. Also, you can put a Q/A on your social media business pages to get your customers’ feedback as it will help you to revamp your business.
Lack of finance
Lack of finance has been a major issue hindering women from starting a business. The good thing is that banks are offering loans to women going into SMEs in Nigeria. Some of these banks have special loan packages with a very low-interest rate. Their criteria are; Have a registered business, open a business account, and run it for 6 to one year. That way you will be qualified for a business loan.
Poor business structure
Poor business structure has led some women to close their businesses. It is essential to have a business module and hire competent hands to help your business to flourish and assist with the seamless running of your business. An example is hiring a salesperson, logistic persons, an accountant, social media specialist, etc.
This article first appeared on Nairametrics on November 16, 2020.