1.1 Background to the Study

The role assigned to entrepreneurship for economic growth and development especially in the developed economies such as USA, Britain, Japan, Canada and others made most developing economies to adjust their developmental policies and plans. New enterprise development is seen as a vital tool for economic advancement in both developed and developing economies. Entrepreneurship as the engine of economic growth and the wheel that pedals the vehicle of economic development has been recognized for its importance in the area of job creation, revenue generation, poverty alleviation and wealth creation. Entrepreneurship is now identified as the central element in the theory of economic development (Schumpeter, 1934; Josiane, 1998; Culkin & Smith 2000; Peacock, 2004; Still & Walker, 2006).
Entrepreneurship is therefore a process that involves a willingness to rejuvenate market offerings, innovate, risks taking, trying out of new and uncertain products, services and markets towards exploring new business opportunities (Covin & Slevin, 1991 and Wiklund & Shepherd, 2005). It attracts both men and women who are interested in profitable inter-industry relationships.
Internationally, participation of women in the labour market lagged behind in the two decades from 1990 to 2010 (Sumaira, Madiha &Muhammad, 2013). Changes have occurred recently in the participation of women in the labour market but they still continue to accept most of the responsibilities for the home. Women use up at least twice as much time as men on non-paid household work. Women are therefore becoming increasingly important in the socio-economic development of both developed and developing economies as they account for significant percent of the operators of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) (Josiane, 1998; Kjeldsen & Nielson, 2000; and Ogunleye, 2004). Women entrepreneurs make a substantial contribution to national economies through their participation in start-ups and their growth in small and medium businesses (United Nations, 2006). Their interests and activities in the economic growth and development especially in the area of SMEs have received outstanding interest of researchers. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) (2005) report provided a cross national assessment of women’s entrepreneurial activities in 35 countries and examined the characteristics of both early-stage women entrepreneurs as well as established women business owners. GEM confirmed that women participated in a wide range of entrepreneurial activities across the 35 countries and their activities in different countries have paid off in form of many newly-established enterprises for job and wealth creation. This notwithstanding, entrepreneurship is usually seen from the perspective of men driven economy (Josiane, 1998; Gelin, 2005). Due to its complexity, particularly its gender issues, the role of women entrepreneurs has not been properly documented.

Women entrepreneurs are confronted with several factors: family, finance, gender, environment and cultural beliefs. Abimbola & Agboola (2011) view gender and cultural beliefs among other factors that influence women’s willingness and ability to venture into entrepreneurial activities. Within the cultural context, there are sub culture like regional, ethnicity and religion that shape individual’s perception and value system. For example, the “pudah” system, a strict enforcement of seclusion rules upon married women from the public, is mostly in practice in Muslim communities. The women are not encouraged to venture into entrepreneurship, and the few that do, face discrimination, thus, affecting creativity, innovation and employment generation from potential women entrepreneurs.
People have different motives and intentions of going into entrepreneurship. The economic reform introduced by the various government in the developing countries that began in the 1980s leading to loss of public sector employments and reduction in income pushed many people to become entrepreneurs in developing countries. Eijdenberg & Masurel (2013) state that people in developing countries are more driven by poverty, survival, and lack job to become entrepreneurs while in the developed economy entrepreneurial activities stem out of desire to seize an opportunity and innovation to start a business. The prevailing harsh socio-cultural factors coupled with high poverty rate and unemployment propel a high rate of entrepreneurial activities in developing countries of world. Gender and cultural beliefs have indeed continued to hamper development and growth of women entrepreneurs in developing nations. Halkias, Nwajiuba, Harkiolakis & Caracatsanis (2011) believe that gender and cultural beliefs impede the economic potential of women as entrepreneurs and impact negatively on enterprise development, productivity, competitiveness and reduce the growth of the economy.

The operation of SMEs involves considerable risks, hard work, enormous sacrifice and sincerity of purpose which cut across various obstacles. The risks, challenges and obstacles perhaps affect women entrepreneurs more than their men counterparts, making their chances of success to be considerably lower than men (Hisrich & Brush, 1986; Ojo, 2004). Considering the various challenges and obstacles facing SMEs particularly in Nigeria such as gender discrimination, cultural beliefs, capital inadequacy, unavailability of the required infrastructure, shortage of manpower to mention but few, someone may quickly conclude that women are usually discouraged from venturing into enterprise development. But today, the story is a different one; women are starting and growing businesses at an unprecedented rate, because more than ever before, women are forced into alternative avenues of generating income with greater number of them setting up businesses as a result of chronic poverty, corporate glass ceiling and high unemployment (Madichie, 2009).
Issues explored by women entrepreneurs as listed in previous studies include their socio-demographic and economic background, the factors that facilitated or inhibited their decisions to become entrepreneurs and their experiences in entrepreneurship (Adesua 2011). Examining particular issues that affect and confront women in business is therefore very important (Ozar, 2002; Usman, 2008). This study therefore, seeks to investigate motivational factors influencing women entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of Research Problem
Despite large volumes of information on small business formation and the economic contribution of women in developed countries, little is known of women entrepreneurs in developing countries, particularly Nigeria. Most studies on entrepreneurial motivation are focused on men without particular attention to women. Women motivation into entrepreneurship and their experience in self-employment, their contribution to the creation of new businesses and ability to create new jobs, are largely invisible in the literature in spite of women’s occupational exodus to entrepreneurship in developing countries, (Usman 2008; 2001; Kutanis, 2003; Minniti & Arenius, 2003; Berlette, Kotrlik & Higgins, 2004).
An important concern which resulted to the significance of this research work therefore centres on the issue of generalization of entrepreneurial factors; whereby inappropriate attention is given to women with less evidence on their socio-cultural tendencies.