Contributions of rural women entrepreneurs in non–farm and off–farm enterprises of households poverty reduction in Abia State
The study assessed the contributions of rural women entrepreneurs in non–farm and off–farm enterprises to household poverty reduction in Abia State, Nigeria. The specific objectives were to: examine the socio- economic characteristics of the respondents, identify the non- farm and off- farm activities, ascertain the extent of contribution, and determine the contribution of income from non- farm and off- farm activities to poverty reduction respectively. A sample size of 180 respondents selected via multi stage sampling technique was used. Data generated via the use of questionnaire and were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics respectively. Results showed a mean age of 46 years, 66.7 % were married, 93.8 % were literates with a mean monthly income of ₦23,444.00 and a mean household size of 5 persons respectively. Farm –gate trading (38.9 %), agro- processing (16.7 %), general merchandise (11.1%), restaurants/ bars (16.7 %), civil servants (4.4 %), and others (5.6 %) were identified as non- farm and off- farm enterprises. Income from non- farm and off- farm enterprises contributed to a very high extent and high extent (X =4.7, and4.5) and (X =4.4, 3.8 and 3.7) in household health care and feeding respectively and improved housing, children’s education and clothing respectively. It further contributed moderately (X= 3.3), (X=2.7), (X= 2.6) and (X= 3.0) in personal savings, social obligations, extended family responsibility and investment into agriculture respectively. Restaurant/bar(₦708.00/day), general merchandise (₦618.00/ day), agro-processing (₦596.00/day), civil servants (₦557.00/day), and, teaching/pasturing (₦535.00/day), among others contributed to poverty reduction in the study area. The Tobit result showed that age (X1=9.07***), household size (X4 = 4.064***) education (X3 = 7.029***) and income (X6 = 5.202***) respectively, significantly influenced contribution to household welfare. Business experience (X5=2.02**) significantly influenced contribution to household welfare. The study recommends that Extension Agents should encourage rural women to form co-operatives which will enable them obtain loans from financial firms, this will increase their investment abilities into non- farm and off- farm ventures which supplement income from farming thereby reducing poverty mostly in the study area.
Keywords: women entrepreneurs, poverty reduction, non- farm and off- farm enterprises