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An investigation of poor women's micropreneurship and their experiences of microfinance in rural south-east Nigeria.

Ukanwa, Irene


Irene Ukanwa


Alistair R. Anderson


This study set out to understand how one of the poorest, most disadvantaged groups - rural African women - perceive and experience microfinance in the context of extreme poverty. The study employed a qualitative method and purposefully sampled thirty poor rural women entrepreneurs in five villages of South-East Nigeria. Data collected from participant observation, five focus groups and thirty interviews were analysed thematically using the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (SLF) to develop insight about the many complexities of livelihoods of rural women entrepreneurs. The study therefore contributes to business scholarship by improving our understanding the perceptions and experiences of rural women about microfinance. The analyses demonstrated that poor women entrepreneurs rely on family to operate their microbusiness and in return sustain the family from the business. The family, as an influential institution, with attendant norms and obligations, informs women's entrepreneurial response and family roles. For these poor women, their priorities revolve around providing necessities for their family and paying for their children's education - clearly a livelihood for survival, not economic maximisation. In their opinion, microcredit is debt and presents a great risk with terrible consequences. The practicalities of their reality means that the potential benefits that microcredit could present may be easily swallowed by its perceived dangers. This is because the complexities introduced by vulnerability and basic consumption needs of the household can impact on the prompt repayment of loans. Therefore, microfinance providers should understand that microcredit is viewed differently by the very poor, and they should endeavour to tailor microfinance in such a way that will support women to fulfil their family and business roles by reducing barriers affecting access to microfinance.


UKANWA, I. 2021. An investigation of poor women's micropreneurship and their experiences of microfinance in rural south-east Nigeria. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Sep 8, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 8, 2021
Keywords Microfinance; Home economics; Family businesses; Small businesses; Rural businesses; Poverty; Micropreneurship; Women; Nigeria
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