The role and contributions of women’s micro-businesses to household survival in Molyko, Buea
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Background of the Study
Entrepreneurial activity has been rising continuously over the past two decades of the twentieth century. On a global level, the sheer volume of business start-ups has been enormous and the number of new entrepreneurs entering every facet of the commercial market. Profound structural changes taking place globally are providing new opportunities for these entrepreneurs (Smile Dzisi 2008).
Over the past two decades, women entrepreneurs have been recognized for their significant contributions to the socio-economic development of their countries. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (2004) found out that, depending on which economy is studied, between 15% to more than 35% of business owners are women.
However, most of the literature on women in micro and small scale businesses has focused on developed countries as limited knowledge exist on women entrepreneurs in developing countries (Saffu and Takyiwaa Manu 2004)
Women entrepreneurs around the world are now making a difference in the sector of entrepreneurship as they contribute both pragmatic and feasible ideas. Besides, they inject a great deal of energy and capital resources into their communities hence creating massive job opportunities (Commonwealth secretariat 2002).
According to Ziwadi and Mhangami (2011), women are the major actors in this sector and they contribute to the economic development in their areas of residence and are gradually becoming visible in the local economies of developing countries. Mass and Herington in 2006 stated that, the growth in the total number of female entrepreneurs outnumbers male entrepreneurs and has led to a renewed focus on gender entrepreneurship.
Similarly, Mass and Herrington (2006:30) indicate that according to the International Trade Center (2004), Canada has experienced a 200% growth in the number of women operating businesses over the last 20 years. Within the African context, taking Cameroon as an example, women entrepreneurs comprise 57% of small and micro-businesses. However, women-owned businesses more to economic development than they are today if countries try to address gender-related barriers properly.
While women are active in small and micro businesses, they face particular problems and challenges in developing their businesses and in addition to those problems and challenges; it is commonly asserted that women frequently face gender bias in the socio-economic areas in which they operate. They face different social, cultural, educational and technological challenges than men when it comes to establishing their enterprises and accessing economic resources (Mayoux, 2001).
Microbusinesses have been the source of income for many in recent years especially women, this is so because there is the ease of entry as sometimes it requires little or no formalities to be able to generate a micro business. Equally, because there are often very low or no skills to enable one to operate a small business so this has attracted most women with no source of livelihood to be able to engage themselves in these businesses and lastly due to the fact that micro businesses require little capital to operate has been a pulling force to most women in this sector.
Women micro-entrepreneurs were largely invisible in early informal sector studies as opposed to recent years as it has been seen as the main form of employment for most people especially women as its contributions to the economy and families cannot be overemphasized.
Microbusinesses have encouraged productivity and economic independence as these women’s entrepreneurial activities do not only have positive social repercussions for the women themselves and their social environment but a means of economic survival.
Since the late 1970s, there has been a growing interest in strategies to enhance the economic status of women through the promotion of micro-businesses in the informal sector due to the contributions that this has brought to the development of their countries.
In Cameroon with the justification of employment being a luxury just a few can afford with women toping in unemployment, they tend to be more engaged in micro-businesses in the informal sector by carrying out certain low-income entrepreneurial activities which mostly generate just a little income to take care of their immediate basic needs.
Women in micro-businesses in Cameroon cuts across a range of activities, that is, from petty traders in food crops locally known as ‘buyam sellam’, fruit vendors, restaurant operators, basic provision store operators, local beer parlour operators, telephone box operators among others. These women are generally found everywhere and are set to have different individual motivations and objectives for starting up their micro-businesses.
Though micro businesses have over the years been seen as a very simple and easy thing to run because of their fewer complications and set advantages, it equally has its set constraints which have limited most women to engage in or efficiently carry out their businesses over a long period of time.
Many scholars have seen the various micro-businesses carried out by women as simply an extension to women’s gender roles and not really a contributing factor to a country’s economic growth, this has turn to neglect the roles women in the micro-businesses play and equally the contributions which they make to economic and household survival.
1.2 RESEARCH PROBLEM
In recent years, there has been a growth in the informal sector of most developing countries. The greater percentage of this population has been women who are mostly into micro-business activities and several reasons have accounted for this which are; this sector is less complicated than the formal sector as there is the ease of entry, low or no educational qualifications needed, little capital in most cases and very little skills at times to get into the informal sector and thus making it a sure source of employment for most women.
Women have a long way benefited from these micro-businesses which they operate as it has acted as a source of employment, increased their self-reliance, empowerment and source of income
Despite the significant importance of women’s micro-business activities, women entrepreneurs still encounter numerous problem which could range from limited capital in starting up a micro-business, no collateral to be able to obtain a loan to start up a business, required knowledge to run a business which might make the business not to last for long and equally some cultural constraints.
Women’s micro businesses have contributed to the general sustainability of households and the society as a whole but have often lacked the proper recognition as it is ever hardly documented or published, making the society not adequately appreciate the role and contributions of these women’s businesses to economic development and survival of individual households. This study, therefore, seeks to investigate the role and contributions that women’s micro-businesses play in the survival of households.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study are divided into general and specific objectives;
The general objective of this study is; to examine The role and contributions of women’s micro-businesses to household survival in Molyko, Buea.
Specific Objectives Of The Study
- To describe the demographic characteristics of the respondents.
- To identify the different types of micro-businesses carried out by women in Molyko, Buea
- To examine the different reasons for women’s involvement in micro-businesses in Molyko, Buea.
- To identify the benefits of women’s micro-businesses to women and their household.
- To identify the factors affecting the functioning of women’s micro-businesses in Molyko, Buea.