Empowering a woman increases her social, economic, emotional and legal strength in her home, family, workplace and community; giving her the opportunity to an equal right, self-worth, respect and dignity to make choices and decisions, to participate and to have the total control of the change she was previously denied. Statistics have shown that rural women in business in Nigeria are increasingly gaining significance. However, one of the major threats to rural women in business is that women do not enjoy as many benefits/opportunities as men in terms of earnings and productivity, limited access to funding, cultural values, societal discrimination, and poor business to business network.
Although entrepreneur journey involves lots of challenges most especially in women involved businesses such as; local manufacturing, retailing, services providers (catering, fashion design, cleaning), wholesale, agriculture and agricultural processing. Rural women have the energy and brilliance we need to draw upon, they have the potential of doing great businesses in their societies and becoming role models to other women who would aspire to venture in entrepreneurship. In northern Nigeria, the bleak situation for entrepreneurial women is clouded by specific religious factors that have actually become law; the activities of these women are regulated and restricted due to their beliefs and customs. With its famous sharia law, women in core Muslim communities especially are often secluded with their roles restricted to just being wives and mothers. Other factors faced by rural women in business are; low literacy level of women resulting from a bias for male child education, poor access to information and technology, insufficient business and financial management skills, poor linkages with support services and access to markets are some other barriers to rural women enterprises in Nigeria.
Intervention is a necessity to create an entrepreneurial environment where women are able to build successful businesses and generate incomes for themselves. This can be achieved by addressing key challenges relating to market access, lack of information and technology as well as poor business and financial management skills through these core pathways:
• Improving the entrepreneurial prowess of women by carrying out entrepreneurial awareness campaign involving relevant stakeholders such as husbands of the women
• Improving the business and financial management skills
• Facilitating business linkages
• Facilitating sourcing of finance
• Encourage and support the leadership and participation of rural women
The Capacity building of these rural women will enable them obtain, improve, and retain the skills, knowledge, tools, equipment and other resources needed to improve their business to a greater capacity and encourage sustainable small‐scale economic development activities by rural women in Nigerian, and determine ways to integrate these small businesses into existing urban economic development projects and strategies for poverty alleviation, expand understanding of the business and social profiles of women entrepreneurs in Nigeria raise the level of awareness of women entrepreneurs amongst all economically active agents and researchers, influence social and economic policy addressing issues of women entrepreneurs. If women are given the right coaching and financial assistance these women can become employers of labour.