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Statistically, women constitute more than 50% of the Nigerian population and out of this; only about 35% of them are involved in entrepreneurship which can be in form of micro, small, medium and large enterprises (Odoemene, 2003). These enterprises usually tend to have the flexibility and innovativeness that are critical business issues in feminism (Aburdene and Naisbitt. 1992; Kerka, 1993). In our contemporary environment, irrespective of women's physical population, educational, economical and social status, they are not well represented in policy making process, especially in issues of business and manpower development. However, the ever-evolving environment has somehow resulted to changes in virtually everything in our society including women's affairs. Hence Aderanti, (2002) was right to observe that "there is a change in family structure and setting which made women to play functional role in our society."
Changes in the family structure and functions which resulted from the process of rapid urbanization had brought women into the mainstream of economic and business world. Most women are now defector heads of households and are predominantly involved in entrepreneurship and business management in order to provide income for their family /home keeping and as a result they are exposed to unusual risks and competition. Considering women's multiple roles in our society (roles as mothers, wives, sisters, bread winners etc.) and the circumstances surrounding their peculiar nature which pose a constrain to their full involvement in business, there is need to create conducive and enabling environment to encourage their participation in the economic development.
Promoting women entrepreneurship development demands for more attention to be focused on those issues that constraint women entrepreneur for formulation of strategies useful in attracting more women into business. Information on gender issues will help in the implementation of supportive practices and programmes for monitoring and evaluating the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in developing economies and the best way to meet their needs. More emphasis from several researchers such as Kerka (1993); Odoemene (2003); Mansor (2005); have been place on role of women entrepreneurs in the economy and the effect of psychological and economical factors on their entrepreneurial development, but few of these researches have concentrated on the environmental factors that are likely to affect their participation in business.
Based on this, the researcher decided to carry out this study to find out the effect of environmental factors on women entrepreneurial characteristics. To achieve this objective, the following research questions will be addressed; what are those environmental factors that effect women entrepreneurship development? how do these factors enhance the development of women entrepreneurship in developing countries? Is there any relationship between these factors and the challenges face by women entrepreneurs? To provide answers to the above questions, this paper is structured into five sections, section two that follows section one is the literature review and conceptual framework, section three is the research methods, section four is the data analysis and results while section five is discussion, conclusion and recommendations.
Literature Review/Conceptual Framework
The Concept of Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurial activities are subject to variables such as; risk taking; innovation; process of wealth creation; identification of an opportunity; a market stabilizing force; ability to start new business and managing it effectively; provision of resources; profit maximization; ability to recognize un-exploited dis-equilibrium; owning and operating a business. These criteria form the basis for determining entrepreneurship as a process that involves the combination of production factors to produce new products and services in pursuance of an identified business opportunity for profit maximization or social service.
Women entrepreneurs are simply women that participate in total entrepreneurial activities; who take the risks involved in combining resources together in a unique way so as to take advantage of the opportunity identified in their immediate environment through production of goods and services. Majority of them are involved in micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) which contribute more than 97% of all enterprises, 60% of the nation's GDP and 94% of the total share of the employment (Mayoux, 2001; Ndubusi, 2004). The spectrum of women in entrepreneurship ranges often from home-based businesses (HBB) to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSEs) (ILO, 1998). Women entrepreneurs generally share the same motivations with their men counterparts (Kerka, I993). Factors that motivate women entrepreneurs have been identified to include; desire for independence; risk-taking propensity (Brockhaus, 1980); dissatisfaction with "glass ceiling" limits on their earnings and advancement (Stoner and Fry, 1982; Familoni, 2007); education; freedom and job flexibility and previous experience (Morrison et al 1992 cited in Mansor 2005); desire to earn more income; growth, and innovation (Carland, Boulton, and Carland 1984); need to improve quality of living (Cooper, 1983). Watkins and Watkins (1986) further classified these factors into 'push' and 'pull' factors.
Characteristics of Women Entrepreneurs
Women in entrepreneurship possess dual characteristics (women and entrepreneurs). These characteristics include; adaptability (Kilby, 1968); innovativeness/creativity (Schumpeter, 1934; Drucker, 1985), strength and internal locus of control (Annenkova, 2001); ability to think and reason fast and endure (Mayoux, 2001); managerial skill; accountability and credit risk (Thomson, 2002). Factors that motivate women entrepreneurs have been identified to include; dissatisfaction with "glass ceiling" (Familoni, 2007) or limits on their earnings and advancement (Stoner and Fry, 1982); need to improve quality of life (Cooper, 1983); desire to earn more income; growth and innovation (Carland, Boulton and Carland 1984); desire for independence, risk-taking propensity (Brockhaus,1980);education, freedom, job flexibility and previous experience (Mansor, 2005).
H1: Women entrepreneurial traits are strongly influenced by environmental
Women Entrepreneurial Development and Environmental Factors
Development connotes a human multifarious and divergent process, manifested in every field of endeavour; which entails the overall improvement of man and his well being, to the level of social group which involves an increase capacity to regulate both internal and external relations (Rodney, 1976). On the other hand, environment is the interrelated and interdependent variables or forces which affect the ways business operates. Business environment is highly dynamic and hence controls the operations and activities of business ventures. The understanding of the dynamism and the effect of environment on women entrepreneurial development is very important for policy making. Kantor (1999) and Iheduru (2002) saw family influence as the antecedent of women entrepreneurial development. Ronstadt (1984); Morris and Lewis (1991) and ILO (1998) included infrastructure, legal, regulatory, economic and socio-cultural variables such as rapid and threatening change, one's family, school and work environment as the environmental factors that can affect women entrepreneurs. Keeble and Walker (1994) looked at the environmental factors from the perspective of the developmental setting that stimulates local market. Several environmental indicators have been identified as the major factors that can either hinder or inhibit women entrepreneurs. Minniti and Arenius (2003) saw these factors as the supportive services that enhance women entrepreneurial development. ILO (2003) was more comprehensive and explicit in its report as regards to environment factors and viewed them as the external factors from the perspectives of; (i) government policy (fiscal and legislative framework), (ii) access to appropriate business development support (iii) access to finance and financial services and (iv) community and family. Mansor (2005) enumerated these factors to include; venture capital availability, presence of experience, technical skilled labour force, accessibility of suppliers, customers, new markets, government influences, land, transportation, new technological development, supporting services and living condition.
H2: There is significant relationship between environmental factors and women entrepreneurial development.
Research Design and Instrument
The aim of study is to discuss and analyze the effects of environmental factors on women entrepreneurial development. The data consists of a survey carried out among women entrepreneurs in MSMEs in Lagos State, Nigeria. The questionnaire that was designed for this purpose was structured in such a way that it has three sections: section A contains queries on the demographics data of the respondents, section B is on the perceptions of the women entrepreneurs and section C is on the environmental factors that could affect their businesses. The questionnaire was administered with the help of two research assistants. In this paper, the researcher discussed mainly the results of the field survey carried out on the women entrepreneurs. The survey gives information on the personal characteristics of women entrepreneurs and the environmental factors that could affect their entrepreneurial development which was measured with business start-up, profitability and expansion. The studied items analyzed in this paper are; the demographic variables of the women entrepreneurs; their entrepreneurial characteristics and the environmental factors that could affect their businesses. In order to reduce the amount of survey statements, the Likert 5-point scale model was employed with assigned number that ranges from 1 (for strongly disagree) to 5 (for strongly agree). The Likert scaling model gives an opportunity of assigning a smaller value which signifies a divergent opinion and a larger value which signifies expressions of concurrent opinion.
Sampling and Data Collection
A field survey based on sample frame was derived from the list of two registered business associations namely Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) and Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI) in Lagos State, Nigeria. These two associations whose membership is made up of men and women entrepreneurs in MSMEs were used in collecting the data for this study. A total number of 120 questionnaires were administered to women entrepreneurs, out of which 104 or 87.5% of them were retrieved. The sample was developed based on cluster sampling. A cross sectional data were collected from four sectors of the economy. These sectors include; agricultural, manufacturing, trade and service. The reason for the choice of these sectors was based on the reports of different research works such as Soetan (1997); ILO (1998); Odoemene (2003); COWAD (2004) which agreed that women are predominantly more on these sectors than other sectors of the economy.
Measurement of Variables
In structuring the survey instrument, several questions which consist of both nominal and scale items were constructed to be used for the study. The questionnaire was designed mainly to target the women heads of the businesses. Among the items used in finding out the demographic status of the respondents are; age distribution; type of business; income distribution; educational background; number of dependents, and working experience. Items used in finding out the environmental factor include; financing accessibility; governmental policy (legal and regulatory framework); business support services and family and community support.
To analyze the data, descriptive analysis which permits the researcher to calculate simple percentages of the demographic variables of the respondents was carried out. Aggregate variables were used to represent the mean of the data. The relationship between the women entrepreneurial development (WED) and the environmental factors was studied using correlation and regression analysis due to the size of the data involved.
To achieve the objectives of this paper, a study of the characteristics of women entrepreneurs were carried out. This will enable us to accept the fact that their entrepreneurial behaviour is pertinent for the understanding of the influence of environment on women entrepreneurs. The survey result in Table 1 shows that the women under our study were between the ages of 21 to 50 and most of them started their businesses when they were in their early age range of 20 and 30. The result also revealed that most of the respondents were either married (53.3%), or single (43.7%). The married ones have number of children that range 1 to 4 and the number of dependents also ranges between 1 to 5 persons. The result also revealed that 63% of them had parents who were self employed while 38% of them have parents who are not self employed. The women entrepreneurs covered in this study engaged in the following nature of businesses; agro-allied -3%; manufacturing- 16%; trade- 36%, and service - 32%.
Table 1 Profile of Women Entrepreneurs
No of Dependents
5 and above
5 and above
How business was started
From the scratch
Nature of Business
Age when business Started
Source: Field Survey 2007
Entrepreneurial Traits and Environmental Factors
To test hypothesis one, the mean of the two aggregate variables (dependent and independent variables) were first calculated. See Table 2. The critical value of the scale is defined as three. Values below three imply a need for development in the respective statements' areas of women entrepreneurship and values that are higher than three points, represent a positive dynamics from women entrepreneurship. Related items were used in further explaining each of these variables. Four items (accessibility to finance; support services; family/community and government policy) were used in measuring the independent variables while twelve most commonly used entrepreneurial traits were used in measuring the dependent variables. These include; risk taking propensity, desire for achievement, desire for independent and freedom, creativity and innovation, internal locus of control, proactiveness, competitiveness, self- confidence and desire for achievement.
Table 2. The Mean and Standard Deviation of the entrepreneurial traits and independent variables
Internal locus control
tolerance for ambiguity
strength and energy
creative and innovative
accessibility to finance
Source: Field Survey 2007
Survey Results- Correlation analysis
The potential correlation between entrepreneurial traits of women entrepreneurs and environmental factors were then examined with a correlation analysis. The aggregate variables of these two variables were then placed in a correlation matrix. See Table 3. The correlation analysis in Table 3 indicates that nearly every aggregate variable has a mutual correlation with a statistical significance. Among all the results, the strongest correlation exist between competitiveness and support services (r=.362). This indicates that women entrepreneurial competitiveness can easily be enhanced through the activities of business support services. The result stood out among others showing a more positive correlation than the rest of others. Second to this was competitiveness and government policy(r=.277); followed by creativity/innovation and business support services (r=.261) and self-confidence and financing accessibility (r=.234).
Table 3 Correlations between entrepreneurial traits and environmental factors
Accessibility to finance
Tolerance for ambiguity
Creative and innovative.
Internal Locus control
Energy and strength
* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)
* * Correlation is significant at the 0.01level (2-tailed)
Source: Field Survey 2007
Environmental Factors and Women Entrepreneurial Development
To test hypothesis two of this study, the topic is reduced into dependent variables (Women entrepreneurial development) and independent variables (environmental factors). The dependent variable (Women entrepreneurial development) was measured by women's ability to start up business, make profit and expand their businesses. These items were chose as the best criteria for measuring development since they involved revenue, income, increase in the assets and the operating cost of the business. Four items which include; financing accessibility, family and community, business support services, and legal and regulatory factors were also used to measure the independent variables. Correlation analysis is adopted to describe the relationship between the dependent variables and independents variables. Table 4a revealed that support services and government policy are significantly correlated towards WED based on 5% and 10% significant levels respectively.
Table 4 (a) Coefficients
Accessibility to finance
Family members and Community
Availability of support services
a Dependent Variable: Women Entrepreneurial Development
Table 4 (b) Model Summary
Adjusted R Square
Std. Error of the Estimate
a Predictors: (Constant), Government policy , family members and community , Accessibility to finance, Availability of support services. b Dependent Variable: Women entrepreneurial development
Source: Field Survey 2007
To determine the factor(s) that has the highest influence on the WED, the data was further analyzed using multiple regression analysis. The result of the regression also showed that business support services is a major influential factors in women entrepreneurial development as proved by the highest t-value and beta scores of (t= 1.910, beta= .222) respectively. The regression result also supported by the correlation analysis with Pearson correlation of R²=.085. Although government policy shows a significant value of .014 at p<05, it has a negative influence on the dependent variable with t- value and beta of -2.504 and beta=.-286 respectively.
On the other hand, financial factor has negative influence on the dependent variable and this was also reflected in their score values that read t= -402 and beta = -043 and its correlation analysis also has a negative relationship towards the WED with Pearson correlation of r= -054. The model used for this research shows that only 8.5% of the independent variables was able to explain the dependent variables (R²=.085). On individual bases, family/community support which has the highest score of r=.095 shows the existence of weak association with WED, and business support services also has a weak strength of association of r=.083 with WED while government policy and financing availability indicated negative association of r= - .158 and r=-.054 respectively
Table 5 Correlations between Independent Variables and Women Entrepreneurial Development
Accessibility to finance
Family members and community
Availability of support services
Women Entrepreneurial Dev.(WED)
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (1-tailed).
Source: Field Survey 2007
Women entrepreneurial development has been looked at from the viewpoint that its framework can be influenced by some environmental factors such as financing accessibility, government policy, family and community support and business support services. Among these factors, government policy has a negative significant on the dependent variable (WED) and this affected all other factors that would enhance growth and sustainability of their businesses is subject to the government policies as regards to MSMEs. The study revealed that there is positive relationship entrepreneurial traits and demographic variables. This finding was in consistent with the study of Ronstadt (1984), which discovered that most entrepreneurs started their businesses at the age range of 22 and 55. Looking at the relationship between the women entrepreneurial traits and the environmental factors, it was seen that a weak relationship exist between these two variables. Numerous literatures such as Watkin and Watkin(1986);Morris and Lewis (1991); ILO (2003); Familoni (2007) revealed that entrepreneurial traits can be influenced by someone's environment either negatively or positively. These factors include availability of infrastructures, training programmes, availability of finance and family support can help to enhance the personality of entrepreneurs especially those involved in micro, small and medium enterprises. However, this is contrary to Morris and Lewis (1991) result which argued that entrepreneurial traits are strongly influenced by environmental variables such as political and economic system, work environment, rapid and threatening change (environmental turbulence), one's family and life experience. According to them, environmental factors whether national, state or individual level has a way of shaping entrepreneur's personalities or traits.
The fundamental arguments underlying the framework of this paper is that environment will either negatively or positively influence an enterprise since the enterprise adds value to the environment. Environment whether conducive or not, is expected to have a positive influence on entrepreneurial development. Conducive environment will result in 'pull' factors that could encourage or lure women into entrepreneurship while non-conducive environment will result in 'push' factors which could also force or push women into business. This study also carefully looked at the relationship between the entrepreneurial traits and the environmental factors. The influence of environmental factors on the entrepreneurial traits such as risk taking propensity, independence, desire for achievement, creativity and innovation and others were also looked at. The results of this study therefore show that entrepreneurial development may be linked with the psychological traits of an entrepreneur which is subject to environmental factors that affect the enterprise.
This paper looked at the effect of environmental factors on women entrepreneurship development. It was discovered that environmental factors play both a triggering and supportive role to WED. This study therefore recommends that (i) women should endeavour to take advantage of all business opportunities in their environment by seeking advice and counseling from those women who are already succeeding in their type of businesses. (ii) Self empowerment through, reflection, education, training and development for skills acquisition on computer operations including internet, public speaking, writing, human relations, legal awareness, economic independence should be encouraged among women entrepreneurs. (iii) The government should make policies that will positively enhance the accessibility of women entrepreneurs to the required funds and help the business support organizations improve their services towards women entrepreneurial development. (iv) Making available more information on gender issues will also help in the implementation of supportive practices and programmes for monitoring and evaluating the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in developing economies and the best way to meet their needs.