1. Background to the Study

Small businesses are normally privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships, whose staff strength vary from country to country. Small businesses can also be classified according to other methods such as sales, assets or net profits. Small businesses are usually run by entrepreneurs.[1]

The growth of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSEs) and entrepreneurship in Nigeria, now even more widely supported by non-governmental organisations, governmental agencies initiated programmes, faith-based organisations and community-based organisations has thus occasioned a diversification in the market trends and production mechanisms, for locally manufactured goods and provision of services. Indeed, the regulation of business activities for the protection of consumers has been controlled by various government regulatory agencies. The idea of controlling and regulating business activities by these agencies is for the purpose of regulating the establishment, methods and operation of the business activities and also ensure an improved and sustained quality of life for consumers.

It is indeed a uniform idea among scholars that consumer protection amongst producers leaves much to be desired, the question then is what impact if any have the regulatory mechanisms had on the growth of these cottage industries in relation to consumer protection in Nigeria. Have these regulatory laws been rendered redundant and ineffective in their application? In the face of increasing influx of substandard and fake products into the Nigerian market, abuse of patent and copyrights, passing off, refusal to register products and subjecting manufactured products to relevant testing and standardization, what really is the effect of consumer protection regulatory standards on the existing and expanding small business enterprises in Nigeria. As the government in partnership with various stakeholders battle the scourge of unemployment, the question still remains; how has government policies and interventions affected the growth of small businesses in terms of compliance with regulatory standards in their business activities.

The growth of small and medium scale enterprises through private efforts by individuals in a bid to become self reliant is known as Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is derived from the Latin word entreprendre which direct translation means entrepreneur, meaning to undertake or to start a business. An entrepreneur is therefore a business adventurer; a business explorer. One who takes advantage of an opportunity, real or perceived. As the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced. Someone who exercises initiative by organizing into a business, or an enterprise.[2]

Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter’s definition of entrepreneurship placed emphasis on innovation, such as:[3]

  1. new products
  2. new production methods
  1. new markets
  2. new forms of organisation    

Israel Kirzner[4] states that the entrepreneur recognizes and acts upon market opportunities. In contrast to Schumpeter’s viewpoint, the entrepreneur moves the market toward equilibrium. Gartner defines entrepreneurship as the creation of new organizations.[5] The Entrepreneurship Center at Miami University of Ohio has an interesting definition of entrepreneurship thus: “Entrepreneurship is the process of identifying, developing, and bringing a vision to life. The vision may be an innovative idea, an opportunity, or simply a better way to do something. The end result of this process is the creation of a new venture, formed under conditions of risk and considerable uncertainty.” Entrepreneurship appears in different sizes. It can be found in large corporations as well as small retail shops. It can present itself under various forms.[6] Entrepreneurship has also been defined as the purposeful activity of an individual or a group of associated individuals, undertaken to initiate, maintain or aggrandize profit by production or distribution of economic goods and services.[7] It is indeed from the activities of an entrepreneur that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises grow.

Indeed with the decline on reliance on white collar jobs especially in governmental departments, and the saturated influx of unemployed applicants competing for limited opportunities in the private sector of banking and multinational corporations to mention a few, the importance of entrepreneurship in all facets of human endeavour becomes a viable economic and sustainable alternative to grapple with the challenges of the twenty first century in market indices development not just in Nigeria but the world over.