Friday, May 24, 2024

Women entrepreneurs decry poor access to funding, loans

“Women business owners oftentimes face marginalisation in accessing funds.’’

• April 23, 2024
Female entrepreneurs
Female entrepreneurs [credit : Business insider Africa]

Some women entrepreneurs have decried poor access to funding, investment and loans to boost their businesses.

The women, who made this known in separate interviews with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja, said this had affected their businesses negatively and made them financially dependent, thereby contributing to gender inequality.

Maryam Sani, a dealer in local and imported furniture, said that discrimination, insufficient networking opportunities, customers, contracts, markets, and socio-cultural barriers affect women entrepreneurs in the country.

“Women business owners oftentimes face marginalisation in accessing funds, investment and business opportunities, unlike men.

“If the government can put in some policies that will favour women, especially in the areas of access to funds and low interest rates, it will propel us to do better and there will be more women entrepreneurs,” she said.

According to Happy Moses, a petty trader, her lack of education, funding and financial tools has affected her dreams of expanding her business.

“Due to a lack of education, I cannot even go into big businesses or access funds to boost my business. To even open a bank account is so difficult for me and I am forced to use my husband’s account for easy transactions, and most times we end up fighting before I get part of my money from him,” she said.

Kemisola Olumide, another business operator, lamented the challenges women face in balancing family life, career and business opportunities.

“Although we now have e-commerce businesses, how many women are literate enough to venture into it or excel in it?” she queried.

Elizabeth Duile, founder of the Civitas Auxillum Foundation, said literacy, awareness, poverty, and a lack of financial tools and funding were challenges affecting the businesses of women in the internally displaced persons camp.

“When it comes to accessing loan facilities or other financial support, IDPs are at a disadvantage, especially women. They are mostly not literate; are not confident of their abilities; do not have bank accounts, BVN, and do not belong to cooperative societies, which will make them eligible to access government loans.

“They have low financial literacy, and from our interactions, they seem comfortable using those of their spouses or male wards, which tells a lot about our patriarchal systems,” she said.

Ms Duile explained that her organisation had created awareness about the need for financial inclusion, given out interest-free loans and facilitated bank account openings for over 120 women.

Meanwhile, Anuli Aniebo, executive director of HEIR Women Hub, an NGO, said that a survey funded by the African Women Development Fund under the Economic Justice theme showed disparities among Nigerian females in accessing funds.

According to Ms Aniebo, only four per cent of female business owners receive funding, compared to 95 per cent of male business owners.

“Social norms, cultural expectations, and biases contribute to limited access to investments for women. Women-owned businesses face challenges such as collateral requirements and high interest rates. Despite lower default rates among female business owners, they still encounter barriers to accessing fair and equitable loan approval processes,” she said.

She said that in response to the findings, her NGO began policy advocacy, capacity building, partnerships and technology integration to bridge the gap in accessing funds for female entrepreneurs.

“We envision a future where women-owned businesses will thrive, empowered by equitable access to funding and support. Through collaborative efforts and targeted interventions, we aim to advance economic inclusion and empowerment for female entrepreneurs in Nigeria,” she said.

(NAN)

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