Women Entrepreneurship in West Africa: The Cowpea Street Food Sector in Niger and Ghana
Vol. Volume 16 Number 1 March/2011
Women entrepreneurship in the informal sector, such as street food vending, is important for poverty alleviation in West Africa. The street food sector provides employment for women and inexpensive and nutritious food for the urban poor. In this paper, we determine the importance of the cowpea street food sector, evaluate the determinants of successful enterprises and ascertain the impact of economic, cultural, religious and geographic differentials between enterprises in Niamey, Niger and Kumasi, Ghana. Data were collected through in-person interview with 114 and 122 women street food entrepreneurs in both countries in 2009. Results revealed that women entrepreneurs engaged in the cowpea street food sector can earn incomes 4 times and 16 times higher than the minimum legal wage in Niamey and Kumasi, respectively. Incomes earned from these entrepreneurial activities contribute directly to health, education and needs of their families. OLS regression results indicate that lack of financial resources, stable business locations and religious beliefs are important entrepreneurial success factors. Cross-country comparisons revealed enterprises in Kumasi are larger and more successful than those in Niamey.
Women entrepreneurship, informal sector, street food sector, West Africa