Micro-credit as a strategy for poverty alleviation among women entrepreneurs in Nasarawa State, Nigeria

Micro-credit as a strategy for poverty alleviation among women entrepreneurs in Nasarawa State, Nigeria

All over the world, poor people are routinely excluded from the formal finance system, ranging from full exclusion in developing countries, to partial exclusion even in developed countries. This fact contributes to making poverty a major development challenge, with one often touted solution being that of providing access to micro-loans. Research has continued to report mixed findings on the effects of microfinance on poverty alleviation. However, the increased involvement of women entrepreneurs in the major markets in Nasarawa State, Nigeria, in the activities of microfinance banks, NGOs, associations, cooperatives, rotating savings groups, self-help groups, and savings mobilisation groups (or adashi) suggests that further investigations on the relationship between microfinance factors and poverty alleviation should be conducted.

 

That is the aim of this study, which was carried out to identify and assess the relationship between microcredit, and self-employment, education, training and skills acquisition, and economic empowerment in a Nigerian context. It begins by contextualising the needs and challenges of women entrepreneurs, and outlining the microfinance environment. Next, the methodology of the study is explained, which included a survey-based research design and statistical regression, which was employed to analyse data collected from the 343 selected women entrepreneur respondents.

 

The null hypotheses tested were that micro-credit: has no significant effect on the self-employment of women entrepreneurs; is not positively related to the education, training and skills acquisition of women entrepreneurs; and has no significant positive effect on the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs. Through literature review, the authors define and discuss the nature of micro-credit, and how it relates to women entrepreneurs, poverty and poverty alleviation, self-employment, and education, training and skills, and economic empowerment.

It was found that micro-credit has a significant positive effect on self-employment, education, training, and skills acquisition, and economic empowerment, leading to the conclusion that all three null hypotheses should be rejected. This corresponds to previous research, which recognises the vital role of micro-finance in supporting small- and micro-enterprises, and thereby contributing to poverty alleviation. The researchers recommend that more be done to raise and sustain awareness of the relevance of micro-credit to self-employment, education, training and skills acquisition, and economic empowerment. Additionally, microfinance institutions should be encouraged to provide more women entrepreneurs with more micro-credit services, and adult education should be available to non-literate women entrepreneurs, including through outreach to within or close-by to the markets.

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