There exist great differences in the rate at which women access entrepreneurship education in Nigeria. Women entrepreneurs endure many irregularities and inequalities in their struggle towards accessing entrepreneurship education. This limits their access towards entrepreneurship education and self-sufficiency. Research has shown that from women’s economic and entrepreneurship activities, obstacles can be consolidated into three broad groups: Structural, economic, and the ‘soft’ones (Jasminka, 2016). Structural obstacles are the educational choices of women which reduce their possibility to start a business in technology or science related fields along with stereotypes placed against women in the society. Economic obstacles refer to financial constraints faced by women in accessing entrepreneurship education. Thirdly, the ‘soft’’ obstacles include lack of mentoring, advise, training, educational programs and schools for entrepreneurship education. These obstacles are further explained below:
1.Lack of knowledge in accessing funding or capital
Women business owners hardly have access to knowledge about sources of funding in Nigeria or access to support networks. This is due to the fact that Venture Capitalists, accelerator programs and other training on entrepreneurship is a new phenomenon in Nigeria and almost non-existent in North Eastern Nigeria due to cultural and religious sentiments. When it comes down the business pitch, VC’s write off women easily due to gender concerns as most VC’s are males and show more preference to their male counterparts. The same applies when the VC happens to be a female, women show more preference towards the opposite gender because women are being paced in a stereotype.
2.Lack of adequate women representation on boards
Women seem little more than handicaps to budding startups. Less than 5 percent of businesses receiving funding boasted a woman on their executive team, and less than 3 percent of VC-funded companies claimed a woman in the entrepreneurial role.
Research has shown that Venture Capitalist, accelerator and incubator programs show a gender bias toward male-run startups. Many argue that women entrepreneurs fail to pursue profitable industries, use ineffective networking strategies, or do not cultivate creative and persuasive pitches like male counterparts do. Unfortunately, entrepreneurship tends to align stereotypically with masculine qualities bravery, strength, competitiveness, assertiveness etc. Contributing to this problem is that most training programs and venture capitalists are men, who are much more likely to recognize and admire masculine virtues in males.
4. Cultural values
As a result of the cultural heritage in Nigeria and many developing States, boys are sent to school while girls are left at home to learn the household chores, get married early and have children. This affects the future and economic prosperity of women.
5.Lack of political will/strategic agenda for women’s entrepreneurship education
The Nigerian government has introduced several programs targeted at women’s empowerment through entrepreneurship education, however, the government still lacks the political will for implementation of a regulatory framework. Many government and non-governmental agencies, ministries and departments pay lip service to women empowerment and entrepreneurship education. However, these agencies lack a clear strategic agenda for women’s entrepreneurship education as implemented in Croatia where 60% women’s participation was recorded (Jasminka, 2016).
6.Lack of confidence
Women demonstrate lack of confidence in their abilities because of the burdens placed on them by the society and the stereotype associated with feminity. This limits them from coming forward to seek for entrepreneurship education.
7.Poor educational background:
The North East is among the economically and educationally backward in Nigeria. Women’s access to education has been hampered by the stereotype placed on boys and girls from childhood. While boys are sent to school to learn, grow, get a job and provide for the family, girls are taught household chores and expected to get married early, have children and take care of the family.
8.Lack of adequate training/empowerment programs
The North eastern Nigeria has over the years recorded low training programs and training centres for women. This is in spite of the Central Bank of Nigerian’s recent strategic intervention and focus on the financial inclusion of women and other less privileged members of the society. The targeted most especially towards the North Eastern States with Borno State as the pioneer State and centre. Although an Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC) was created and many other training centres created by Borno State Government and other international NGOs, the impact on such training programs and Centres has been difficult to be assessed due to unavailability of available date and focus on other programs targeted at food security and safety of lives and properties. The training centres are often located out of the reach of the people in remote locations. Mentoring, support networks and advisory services are unevenly distributed (Jasminka,2016) and more visible in other developed States like the Federal Capital Territory and Lagos State. In addition, the educational curriculum for schools, colleges, polytechnics and others has been modified to include entrepreneurship courses. However, the teachers lack the necessary skills to effectively impact the lives of women or teach according to the needs and diversity of women.
9.Lack of funding
Most women in the North East cannot afford to pay for the entrepreneurship education courses or the necessary funding to pay for entrepreneurship programs availed by accelerator programs or other NGO’s. And even after attending, the entrepreneurship courses, many women cannot access capital to start the business. Thus, they chose not to attend the educational programs even when offered for free.
10.Bureaucratic nature of government
Many government funded entrepreneurship programs are filled with internal bureaucracies and favoritism. Many of the people who qualify are rejected while other unqualified individuals are given the chance to attend the programs because of either political or family affiliation. Most often men preference is shown towards men
11.Horizontal gender segregation
Through North East, female entrepreneurs are found mostly in sectors where is less present such as the educational and social sector. The fast-growing and more innovative sectors such as retail; science and technology are dominated by men
12.Lack of participation in gender-sensitive policy dialogue
Generally women make up a small proportion of women entrepreneurship networks and are fewer in leadership positions. As a result, their needs and priorities are often not communicated in advocacies and policy making. This further limits their ability to connect with partners and also the entrepreneurship education.
13. Lack of computer skills
Many women entrepreneurs do not possess the necessary ICT skills required to access proactively both online and mobile training programs; new market information and trends in the business environment. Other factors limiting women’s access to entrepreneurship education include lack of institutions for childcare and eldercare; lack of awareness on how to access entrepreneurship support networks, and peer communities; lack of a forum for exchange of experience between successful female entrepreneurs and women startups; lack of online mentorship and consultancy; lack of learning modules tied to the learning needs and interest of women entrepreneurs; lack of adequate networking opportunities; lack of social support; competing demands on time (double burden of home and work responsibilities; lack of willingness by women to share their experiences and knowledge; lack of highly effective and gender-sensitive education and training ;lack of adequate entrepreneurship education programs at the State, national and regional levels (Catrina et al, 2016).