Microenterprise development and rural women in Bawku West District

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Women own a large percentage of small scale enterprises worldwide and continue to play important roles in local development. Yet too little is being done for them and they remain disadvantaged when it comes to obtaining financial support for business start-ups and expansion. Micro-credit targeting of women-owned microenterprises will pull women out of current unacceptable high levels of poverty among poor women. A mixed methods descriptive research design, incorporating qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques was adopted for the study. Hundred and forty-three (143) respondents were selected from the five area councils via a stratified simple random sampling technique. Primary data were complemented by information gathered from BWDA Profile (2009) and other institutional reports. Each respondent reacted to a number of both negative and positively worded questions. Main micro entrepreneurial activities of BWD women are groundnut oil extraction, farming/dry season gardening, shea-butter oil extraction, malt production and pito brewing, dawadawa and rice processing, and weaving of smock materials. Funding for women-owned micro-enterprises included personal savings, loans from credit unions and Toende Rural Bank, NGOs/BWDA and family members. Lack of capital, collateralization of loans, high interest rates and delays in processing loans, lack of adequate markets for products and lack of adequate business management know-how were the main challenges to micro-enterprise development. Micro-enterprise development through micro-credit has positively impacted the lives of rural poor women entrepreneurs and their households, in terms of better and higher incomes, food security, ability to send and retain their children in school, generation of employment, greater access to health care and information on reproductive health issues, and economic and social empowerment to assert women rights, and to participate in discussions leading to household and community decision making. Financial and social intermediation schemes, insurance, training in business records keeping and financial numeracy, market-networking and life-long education for women can further promote microenterprise development and poverty reduction.
A Thesis submitted to the Institute of Distance Learning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Commonwealth Executive Master of Business Administration.