The effect of social network on women entrepreneurs in Nigeria: a case study of Ado- Ekiti small scale enterprise
Small businesses are an essential component of almost every economy in the world, and, as a group who are currently disproportionately excluded or underrepresented, women entrepreneurs are increasingly seen as a key driver for future economic growth and development in developing countries. Yet the struggles and barriers that women face as entrepreneurs in developing countries means that there is a need for more research focused on how and why women entrepreneurs succeed and fail, so that women can be better supported and empowered. One important variable posited by prior research is that of social networks, and their role in business growth and survival.
This journal paper discusses the research literature concerning the impact of social networks on business growth of women entrepreneurs, and conducts primary research specifically within small scale businesses operating in the tailoring sector in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria. The aim is to identify and explicate hindrances to women’s entrepreneurial activity and growth, and examples of effective usage of social networks to overcome or mitigate these barriers. The literature review covers existing theoretical frameworks of the business-social network nexus, and identifies how and why social networks are important for entrepreneurs. Reasons include: access to resources and social capital, opportunities for knowledge and inspiration, increased profitability via greater customer connections, and opportunities for expanding and internationalising activities.
In-depth interviews and questionnaires were used for the gathering of data, with questions relating to demographic characteristics, awareness of any social network relevant to their business, assets acquired, challenges,and suggestions for improving social networks. The data was then analysed using descriptive statistics and Chi-square test for independence analysis. The results indicated significant relationships between business growth and social networks, especially for women in small scale tailoring business in Ado Ekiti. Finance is identified as the single greatest hindrance to women entrepreneurs, as cited by 43% of respondents. Infrastructural facilities (32%), family (11%), and government policy (4%) were also cited as barriers to growth. The study further shows that family and friends represent the largest part of the social networks of the group studied.
The study closes with recommendations based on the findings:
The development of inter-associational strategic networks is important and valuable in assisting businesses to grow, and increase their chances for success.
To help retain customers and avoid unnecessary losses, effort must be placed on the quality of service and products, and business owner training.
The Tailoring Association should design a program for their members to increase the awareness of the importance of social networking for business growth.
With access to finance the most highly rated issue facing women entrepreneurs, targeted financial support by government is needed for raising the level of entrepreneurship amongst women, complete with flexible terms and conditions.
- Stakeholders should use the findings of the study to encourage women to mobilise in groups to form networks to assist in accessing finance, markets, information, and customers.