ENTREPRENEURSHIP; A TOOL FOR POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN NIGERIA

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INTRODUCTION
Succinctly described as the absence of those ethical, social and material resources needed to develop moral, intellectual and social capabilities of individuals, communities and institutions (Oteje, 2012), poverty is undoubtedly the single greatest social burden in the world today. It is a timeless matter and has defied all economic and social systems (Ibid). It has persisted despite avalanche of local, national and international efforts geared towards combating it.
In Nigeria, poverty is very endemic. In fact, over 70% of Nigeria’s population is classified as poor (<$2 /day) and 35% living in absolute poverty (< $1/day) (NEI, 2012). Many at times, the approach adopted by international organizations, especially the World Bank, is financial assistance in form of aid to poverty-stricken countries for the fight against poverty which is foremost among the Millennium Development Goals. In fact, over the last five decades, approximately $2.3 trillions have been spent on foreign aid (Oteje, 2012). However, rather than ushering greater self-sufficiency, this financial assistance has had detrimental effects on recipient countries: increased dependency on foreign assistance, subservience to externally dictated priorities, misappropriation of funds and decreased pressure for government reform (Ibid.). It moreover seems poverty is rewarded, and of course, anything rewarded does not wither away but blossoms. Indeed, just as economist the world over believe, and in consistency with a Chinese proverb (Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a life time), entrepreneurship is the surest way to alleviate poverty. Entrepreneurship sets up a cycle which checks poverty in a domino fashion. It is all about starting and managing businesses and it is the approach adopted by several developed countries across the globe and would indeed be invaluable in tackling poverty in Nigeria. Indeed, entrepreneurship is a necessary ingredient for stimulating economic growth and expanding employment opportunities in Nigeria as successful small businesses are the primary engines for job creation, income growth and poverty reduction in other developing nations. THE ROLE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN POVERTY ALLEVIATION
There are very many ways in which poverty manifests itself. The World Bank has identified the following faces of poverty: hunger, lack of shelter, inability to access health-care, lack of access to quality education, unemployment, lack of proper sanitation, powerlessness (insecurity), lack of representation and freedom etc (Oteje, 2012). In all these, entrepreneurship has a very pivotal role to play in reversing the situation alongside its incentives.
Reduction of Unemployment
Entrepreneurship promotes self-employment and thus, provides a sure opportunity for individuals to engage themselves gainfully in enterprises. It equally empowers people to be job creators rather than seekers and so expands employment opportunities in a domino fashion. More jobs translate into better livelihoods and enhanced-income and invariably guarantee that individuals and their dependants are lifted out of poverty. Interestingly too, it transcends salvaging the individual, it guarantees the fortunes of subsequent generations. For instance, a parent who is employed has enough income to provide for the children (who would have otherwise constituted the poor population), pay their school fees etc. With the children educated, their value and relevance in the labour market are tremendously improved, meaning their future livelihoods are guaranteed.
Equally, entrepreneurship in the rural areas discourages rural-urban migration identified as prominent among reasons for high urban unemployment and poverty.

Reduction of Insecurity and Investment Attraction
By creating and distributing wealth, entrepreneurship facilitates reduction in crime wave and insecurity. First, it engages youths who would otherwise be exploited by mischief-makers to perpetuate insecurity. Moreover, it eliminates the anger and frustration which accompany joblessness which breeds strife and increase vulnerability to violent-prone activities. By enhancing security, entrepreneurship creates a conducive environment for the expansion of local businesses and attraction of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). Greater investment in the real sector translates into industrial expansion, more jobs and better infrastructures ( provided to enhance business operations)
Mobilization of Capital for Investment
By increasing real income among the populace, entrepreneurship promotes saving and investment culture especially in the rural areas. Such investments, for instance, in microfinance institutions in rural areas where conventional deposit money banks have not penetrated could boost the expansion of these pro-poor finance institutions and increase their capacity to finance more propitious businesses in their host communities. Besides, highly capitalized microfinance institutions could run credit guarantee schemes specifically targeted at poor people desirous of reversing their conditions through entrepreneurship. This is imperative as poor people generally do not have the requisite credit history, collateral or sureties to enable them secure loans from conventional financial institutions.
Infrastructure Improvement
Entrepreneurship provides a platform whereby efforts can be accelerated to provide critical infrastructural facilities which will not only promote economic prosperity, but, attain to the infrastructural deficiencies which were earlier identified as overt forms of poverty. This is because Entrepreneurship development in any society attracts public and private sector investments in the economy of such society. Some of such investments will go into infrastructural upgrade (perhaps as part of corporate social responsibility). This would ensure that all Nigerians enjoy unfettered access to clean water, electricity, good roads, quality health care and basic sanitation among others.
Alleviation of Extreme Hunger
Apart from financial bankruptcy, the most pronounced manifestations of poverty are: lack of food, clothing and shelter. This manifestation can be tackled with entrepreneurship development focused on Agriculture to not only increase availability but enhance affordability of these core needs. Food crops provide food which could end food scarcity; timber provides shelter and furniture, cotton and wool provide clothing. However, entrepreneurship provides the means for converting these raw materials to forms which can be applied to solving the aforementioned identified problems.
Economic Diversification
Entrepreneurship provides the sure way of diversifying our economy away from its present mono-culture status built around crude oil and gas which is not employment intensive. Besides, without developing strong enterprises to harness the potential of the oil and gas industry, Nigerians would not be able to participate effectively in the entire value chain of petroleum which has immense potentials for job creation. By diversifying the economy, other pro-job components of the real sector like Agriculture, Mining, Manufacturing, ICT etc which are currently near comatose, would be developed and optimally exploited particularly in the interest of communities bereft of oil resources.
A look at our film industry “Nollywood” would reveal the power of entrepreneurship in poverty reduction. Before 1992 the film industry as an enterprise was nothing to reckon with (Daodu, 2011). However, the enterprising spirit of Kenneth Nnebue of NEK Video Links and later producers and actors has elevated Nollywood to being not only the third largest film industry on the planet, but a mega industry with little or no government support (Ibid.). Nollywood now employs in excess of 250,000 people while contributing significantly to our GDP. (Clayton,2010). Thus, while directly creating wealth through employment generation, it equally boosts government financial capacity to multiply pro-job public enterprises. Through its films, it serves as a medium for inspiring young innovative Nigerians into entrepreneurship, while advertising investment opportunities in Nigeria and advancing tourism via the promotion of tourism destinations and local craft.
Promotion of Gender Equality
One of the incentives for the unabated spread of poverty is gender inequality in access to economic factors especially land and capital. Here, women are denied access to these essential inputs. Consequently, women populations wallowing in abject poverty and deprivation far exceed the men counterpart. Little wonder why poverty in Nigeria, especially in the Northern states is said to have a woman face. Entrepreneurship directly serves to oppose this trend and is capable of closing these gender gaps. This is because it is not gender-sensitive. All it requires are an innovative mind and capital. Entrepreneurship is the most effective way of tackling poverty among women often discriminated against in the formal sector of the economy.
Interestingly too, with women’s full potential maximally explored, their lives are transformed and economic emancipation is brought to the individual, community and the state. This is a truism as experience has shown that in areas where women gained access to education, employment and ownership opportunities, dramatic effects are recorded at many levels: at the family level, more equitable distribution of food resources and health care among girls and boys; higher rates of literacy among children; lower rates of fertility leading to more manageable populations (population explosion dwarfs employment generation and poverty alleviation efforts) and invariably better economic conditions and maternal health (Oteje, 2012).
Creation of Inspiration for Self-actualization
Entrepreneurship creates models of success that can inspire hope and productivity and the poor who seem frustrated and jaded. Building on the experiences and successes of successful entrepreneurs, poor people could be persuaded to develop innovative an entrepreneurial spirit and attitude that will change their lives.

CONCLUSION
Categorically, entrepreneurship has tremendous capacity to alleviate poverty in Nigeria. It all lies on relevant stakeholders to provide structural, infrastructural and political support necessary for entrepreneurship to thrive as a pragmatic means of engendering the much-needed economic transformation.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Clayton, J. (2010), Nollywood Success Puts Nigeria’s Film Industry in Regional Spotlight, “The Times”, Retrieved: April 3, 2010.

Daodu, M. (2011), Re-emergence of the Cinema; Impact on Local Industry and National Economy, “2011/2012 Nigeria Film Corporation Essay Competition”, June, 2011.

Fighting Poverty Through enterprise, “Nigerian Entrepreneurship Initiative Website” www.google.com/nigerian_entrepreneurship_initiative.

Nolan, R. (2010), BIG Vision Tackling Poverty, “Think BIG Magazine”

Onyido, I. (2011), The Role of Entrepreneurship in Economic Development “1st Abia State Technology Entrepreneurship Fair/Zonal investor’s Forum” March 7, 2011.

Oteje, K. (2012), Entrepreneurship, Job Creation, Income Empowerment and Poverty Reduction in Nigeria

Nolan, R. (2010), BIG Vision Tackling Poverty, “Think BIG Magazine”

Onyido, I. (2011), The Role of Entrepreneurship in Economic Development “1st Abia State Technology Entrepreneurship Fair/Zonal investor’s Forum” March 7, 2011.

Wikipedia – Entrepreneurship www.wikipedia/entrepreneurship

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