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The Contribution Of Women Owned Small And Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) To Economic Growth And Development; The Case Of Liberia (2000-2010)


Small and medium sized enterprises, (SMEs) majority of which are owned and operated by women are acknowledged as effective instrument for economic growth through jobs creation, poverty reduction, and sustainable development.

The purpose of this paper was to establish reasons why most female owned SMEs in the informal economy contributions to economic growth in Liberia are not recognize when government is computing its sources of revenue.

Data collected through literature review and assessment of government reports of approximately 12,000 SMEs in Liberia conducted between the periods 2000 to 2010 shows that women’s SMEs that are excluded are mainly: street vendors without fixed primacy, irregular  businesses,  SMEs  with no records or poorly kept records of financial transactions. Other factors that led to exclusion are the complex formalization procedures that tool a long time and required some level of literacy. Recommendations include simplifying procedures of formalization, conducting financial literacy programmes for women and support women with loans to stabilize their businesses.

I hold a Masters of Art degree in Gender Aware Economics from the Makerere University, Kampala Uganda East Africa. I obtained undergraduate degree from the University of Liberia with BSc in Economics and minor in management, I completed my secondary education at the Cape Palmas High school Maryland County Republic of Liberia where I obtained High School Diploma and WAEC certificate. After the completion of my Master’s Degree program, I had the opportunity to study in the areas of Monitoring & Evaluation (M & E), Project Planning and Management (PPM), and Procurement & Contract Management where I obtained certificates in these courses from the Africa Population Consult Capacity Building institute, Kampala, UgandaEast Africa. In 2018, I obtained 3 levels certificates – Master’s Certificates Development project management, Expert Development project management, and Advance Development project management from the Institute of Project Management Professionals, Accra Ghana.

Key words:  Women owned SMEs, Contribution, Inclusion and GDP   










I,   Emily D. Frank   declare that this research report is my own work and has never been submitted for any degree, diploma or certificate in this or any university/institution of higher learning, and that all the resources I have used or quoted have been  indicated and acknowledged by complete references.

Emily D. Frank

RegNo: 2011/HD06/3862X

Student ID: 211003975


This undersigned supervisor has read this research report in the process of guiding the author and hereby approved   it for submissions to the school of Graduate studies for the award of a degree of  Master of Art in Gender analysis in Economics of Makarere University. 


                        Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo

                        School of Women and Gender Studies
                        Makerere University,

                        P O Box 7062. Kampala Uganda


I dedicate this research to my beloved parents, Mr. Charlie Willie Frank , Eva Snoh Frank and my late grand mom, Sarah Manawin Monday.

To my beloved father, who have been gender sensitive by not only having preference for boys  education  but also educated your girls children from kindergarten to under graduate levels, despite the presence of social cultural norms which discriminate against the girl child. 

I appreciate you, Dad for not only performing your productive role as economic man by releasing the family off financial stress but assisted mom in her reproductive role by raising us, caring for us and instilling in us the sense of self-discipline which is the source of my motivation.

To my late grand mom, who played both reproductive and production roles in assisting my parents financially, morally and spiritually to educate us.

I love you mom, for the care, love, discipline you showed us as children which give me ‘’the strength of mind’’ that I possess today. 


I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to my proficient and dedicated Supervisor,  Professor. Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo. Her guidance, advice, suggestions, and recommendations have been very invaluable during the process of my dissertation.       

I would like to thank all those persons whose works are referred to in this research report. And those assisted me in making data used available. Mr. Benedict Dolo and Mr. Gweh Gaye Tarwo, Director for Revenue Forecasting . Ministry of Finance.                     

I also greatly appreciate Dr. Bruno B. Yawe, coordinator of this program for his motivation in ensuring that this research report was completed in time and to all my lecturers for their unprecedented guidance during the theoretical foundation of this degree program. I acknowledge with gratitude the company of my fellow students, with whom we struggled together throughout this course. Mr. Cyril K. Zaway and Mr. Samuel Kwesi Ekyinabah .

I also acknowledge with gratitude the scholarship awarded me by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to pursue masters in Gender Aware Economics. Without this financial support, it would not have been possible. Let me thank Prof. Geegbae A. Geegbae, Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, University of Liberia for his knowledge and practical application of gender mainstreaming that made it possible for me to seized this opportunity. I appreciate Mr. Tom N. Chie, former chairperson of the Department of Economics, University of Liberia for his encouragement extended to me.

I am highly indebted to my brother and his wife, Mr. Isaac S. Frank and Mrs. Beatrice Frank for having assisted me in my reproductive role by caring for my kids and providing financial, moral and spiritual support to them. Without the assistance of my brother and his wife, I would not have had the time to undertake this degree program. I also appreciate my brother, Moses P. Frank, my spiritual father who midnight calls and alarm woke me up for reading.

I am very much grateful to my relatives and friends, especially Miss. Albertha B. Yengbe for their support and encouragement extended to me throughout the duration of the course.


SMEs              Small and medium size enterprises

LISGIS           Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information

CWIQ             Common Welfare Indicator Questionnaire (2007)

LBDI              Liberia bank for development and investment

GDP                Gross domestic product

LPMC            Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation

ILO                 International Labour Organization

NGOs             Non-governmental Organization

NPCH             National Population and Housing Census

NFWBO         National Foundation for Women Business Owners,

 USA               United States of America

FAO                Food and Agriculture Organization












1.0 Background. 2

1.1 Problem Statement 2

1.2   Objectives of the study. 2

1.3   Scope of the study. 2

1.4   Significance of the study. 2

1.5 Organization of the study. 2



2.0 Introduction. 2

2.1 Global classification of business enterprises. 2

2.2 Informal sector: SMEs Importance in National Development 2

2.3 Gender, Ownership and employment in Informal sector 2

2.4 Africa’s National Economies: Sources of revenues and computation. 2

2.5 Constrains /challenges faced by women SMEs. 2



3.0 Introduction. 2

3.1 Data type and sources. 2

3.2 Data Analysis. 2

3.3 Analysis of existing quantitative data. 2

3.4 Reliability of Data. 2

3.5 Data Evaluation. 2

3.6 Country context 2

3.7 Social economic context 2



4.0 Introduction. 2

4.2 Small and medium business operations in Liberia. 2

4.3 Classifications of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Liberia. 2

4.4 Classification for SMEs inclusion in GDP computation. 2

4.5 Characteristics of women own Small and Medium sized Enterprises. 2

4.6 Comparative analysis: set criteria for GDP inclusion and characteristics of SMEs. 2

4.5 Economic contribution of small and medium businesses in Liberia through Employment 2

4.6 Reason why women small and medium business miss in GDP computation. 2

4.7 Measures to include women small and medium business in classification. 2



5.0 Introduction. 2

5.1 Recommendations. 2

5.2 Short- responses to the problem.. 2

5.3 Implications for a national employment and investment strategy: longer-term policies. 2

5.4 Conclusion. 2




Table 1: List of some SMEs owned by male and females. 2

Table 2: Employed persons (age 15 and above), by sex and sector of main activity, 2

Table 3: Classification of SMEs. 2

Table 4: Educational attainment amongst children and adults. 2

Table 5: Criteria for SMEs qualification. 2

Table 6: Tax operations. 2

Table 7: Characteristics of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises. 2


Figure 1: Breakdown of employers by gender 2

Figure 2: Gender breakdown of Labour by sector 2

Figure 3:  Age Distribution of the Population. 2


Small and medium sized enterprises, (SMEs) majority of which are owned and operated by women are acknowledged as effective instrument for economic growth through jobs creation, poverty reduction, and sustainable development.

The purpose of this paper was to established reasons why most female owned SMEs in the informal economy contributions to economic growth   in Liberia are not recognize when government is computing its sources of revenue.

Data collected through literature review and assessment of government reports of approximately 12,000 SMEs in Liberia conducted between the periods 2000 to 2010 shows that women’s SMEs that are excluded are mainly: street vendors without fixed primacy, irregular  business,  SMEs  with no records or poorly kept records of financial transactions. Other factors that led to exclusion the complex formalization procedures that tool a long time and required some level of literacy. Recommendations include simplifying procedures of formalization, conducting financial literacy programmes for women and support women with loans to stabilize their businesses.

Key words:  Women owned SMEs, Contribution, Inclusion and GDP   

                                                               CHAPTER ONE


1.0 Background

The small and medium-sized business sector is recognized as an integral component of economic development and a crucial element in the effort to lift countries out of poverty (Wolfenson, 2001). Small- Scale businesses are driving force for economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction in developing countries. They have been the means through which accelerated economic growth and rapid industrialization have been achieved (Harris et al, 2006; Sauser, 2005). Furthermore small scale business has been recognized as a feeder service to large- scale industries (Fabayo, 2009).

Liberia  being part of the developing countries, it’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent over 80% of enterprises in Liberia, similar to Ghana whose small and medium-sized  businesses comprise about 90% of all enterprises and are recognized as a crucial and integral component of economic development aimed at sustained poverty  reduction in Ghana, Rosemond Boohene (2009 pages 121-138).

From the labour market perspective the important roles of the informal sectors are to absorb surplus labour and to help households cope with the vulnerability associated with poverty. It is the only way for the growing number of labour force entrants as well as rural- urban migrants to earn living as labour supply expands faster than formal wage employment. Self-employment also can provide some cash supplement to subsistence or smallholder farmers.

In developing countries the SMEs is mostly dominated by women. Women’s share of informal sector employment is high, typically estimated at 60 to 80%. They comprises both young and older women between the ages 15 to 50 plus. Women are more likely than men to be in informal activities some of which are registered and recognized by national government while others are not registered and therefore, not recognized or undercounted when government is computing its revenue. In many cases women dominate the informal sector because they have been traditionally suffered from restricted access to formal education and formal sector employment. Compare to men informal workforce, women in the informal sector are more likely to be own account workers, that is, self-employed working by themselves, and subcontract workers and are less likely to be owner operators or paid employees of informal enterprises. 

In general, the informalisation process in Africa appears to be subordinating women labour at the level of reproduction rather than production. Through their desperate contributions to household income, women informal actors increasingly relieve the formal sector of the obligation to pay a living wage, without being directly incorporated in the wider capitalist production process.

1.1 Problem Statement

Across the counties, Liberian women are many in businesses, included but not limited to: 

Light consumer goods that are primarily related to food and beverages, textiles, used clothing and footwear, Restaurants, electrical parts, automotive parts, manufacture, leather products, soap and detergents, woodworks. Health, Education, communication, Gas and petroleum products, Transport (LISGIS, 2008). There are other women who are street vendors and petty traders engage in retail products like:   Rubbing alcohol, powder soap, detergents, vegetables, fish, meat, shrimp, snail and other agricultural products like: cassava, plantain, beans, yam, sweet potatoes, eddoes, palm oil, chickens among others. Small and medium-scale enterprises usually operate in informal and semi-formal sectors (EUROPA, 2003). However, their contribution is not fully accounted for and recognized by government in computing the national sources of income and calculation of GDP. This is a gross anomaly given the fact that a significant number of women continue to engage in various businesses to sustain their families thus contributing to the welfare of many Liberians.

1.2   Objectives of the study

The purpose of the current study is to establish why women owned small and medium-sized enterprises contributions are not included in the computation of GDP and to propose measures to capture their contributions to national development.

Specific objectives of the study are to

  • Identify types of women businesses (High, medium, and low) that are generating income.
  • Examine reasons why their contributions are not recognized and documented by government.
  • Identify what measures can be put in place to have women contribution recognized and computed.  

1.3   Scope of the study

Though there are many researches conducted on women owned small and medium sized enterprises, this study is only limited to their contribution to economic growth and development. The study will source data from the National Statistics House (LISGIS) covering the period 2000-2011

1.4   Significance of the study

The findings of this study provide a further ‘building block’ for policy makers in transition and developing economies. It provides a systematic approach to reviewing policies and designing strategic plans for SME development at national, regional and local levels. It is designed to be of use to a wide constituency. Readers may include politicians and key policy makers; civil service staff at national, regional and local levels; and the staff of small and medium enterprise stakeholder agencies such as Chambers of  Commerce and business associations, NGOS, local development agencies and consultancies, and training organizations.

1.5 Organization of the study

This study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one is the introduction, then, chapter two focuses on the literature and the theoretical literature review. Chapter three comprises of the methodology, data type and sources, and data analysis.  Chapter four presents the result and findings of the study and finally, Chapter five presents the discussion of the findings, conclusions and recommendation.



2.0 Introduction

This section summarizes and assesses existing concepts and theoretical framework of women owned enterprises (small and medium sizes) contribution to economic growth and development in different countries around the world.

2.1 Global classification of business enterprises

Globally, there is no single criterion for classifying business enterprises as small or medium scale. In a study carried out by International labour Organization (2005), over 50 definitions were identified in 75 different countries. However, evidence from literature shows that in defining small-scale business, reference is usually made to some quantifiable measures such as: number of people employed by the enterprises, investment outlay, the annual turnover (sales) and the asset value of the enterprise or a combination of these measures. The small and medium size enterprises are mostly found in the informal economy.

For the purpose of this study, the definition of an informal economy is not been looked at from the perspective of the International Labour Organization, (IOL,1979) as a sector that operate illegally, by bypassing rules and regulations, including taxation. But the definition of informality can be captured with two different, but related concepts: the first (and oldest) approach is the statistical definition of the informal sector. It relies on the characteristics of the production unit (enterprise-based concept of informality) in which a person works.

According to the Enterprise/Growth Perspective, the informal sector is a dynamic sector containing much budding entrepreneurships: its growth is a sign of economic success, and it is likely to be voluntarily chosen. From the view point of this perspective, employment in the informal sector enterprises is defined on the basis of production units.

Additionally, the Enterprise/Growth perspective divides the informal sector enterprises into two main categories:

  • “Household enterprises’’ (HEs): informal own-account workers and contributing unpaid family workers; and
  • “Small and Medium enterprises’’ (SMEs): unincorporated enterprises with one or more paid workers (up to a nationally-specified upper bound), which are the focus point of this research.

The second and more recent extension looks at the characteristics of a person’s job, rather than the enterprise that employs her or him. The job-based approach allows grouping together those who are not in a formal employment relationship and generally suffer from inadequate social protection, a lack of right at work, poor working conditions and low incomes regardless of whether they are employed by a formal enterprise, in the informal sector or in production for own consumption including communal agriculture.

This second aspect is been looked at from the Labour/Vulnerability Perspective. From the labour market perspective, the important roles of the Informal sectors are to absorb surplus labour and to help households cope with the vulnerability associated with poverty.

Its growth is a sign of self-employment and is often the only way for the growing number of labour force entrants as well as rural-urban migrants to earn a living as labour supply expands faster than formal wage employment. Self-employment also can provide some cash supplement to subsistence or smallholder farmers.

2.2 Informal sector: SMEs Importance in National Development

According to (OECD and UNIDO, 2001), the establishment and nurturing of small and medium sized enterprises is a vital ingredient in creating dynamic market economies in the economic and social development of transition countries. Entrepreneurs are the big drivers of economic growth, innovation, regional development and job creation. A strong and vibrant small and medium sized enterprises sector provides a strong foundation to increase standards of living and to reduce poverty. The roles of SMEs in economic development in general therefore include:

Creation of Employment Opportunities, employment creation is undoubtedly one of the most important roles of SMEs. For instance, in the UK, a study conducted showed that in 1972, the sub-sector accounted for 18.3% of employment (Freear, 1980). In Nigeria, research work showed that in 1978, SMEs employed 45% of the work-force in the manufacturing sector (Owuala, 1987). By 1986, the figure had risen to about 70% of all firms employing millions of Nigeria (Mbachu, 1989). In fact the United Nation Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) based in India, claimed in one of its findings that SMEs generate employment 5times more than the large industrial concerns. Apart from the fact that SMEs do generate employment opportunities, research has also shown that they do so at a relatively cheaper rate than the large scale industries. Oguntoye (1984) has also pointed out that while it required a capital investment of about N7, 500, in a small industry to create an employment for a worker, it required N25, 000 in a large scale industry to accomplish the same feat. He therefore reasoned that if the capital/labour ratio reflected the intensity of the rise of capital and labour, then small scale industries are especially suited to developing country economy which suffers from inadequacy of capital but has super-abundant labour supply, especially in the unskilled and semi-skilled cadres.

Mobilization and Utilization of Resources, mobilization and utilization of resources represent another vital role which SMEs play. They mobilize resources – financial or otherwise – which would have been lying idle or wastefully spent and channel them to productive uses. Oguntoye (1984) in a study of small-scale industries established that they obtained 85% of their initial capital investment from non-formal lending sources, i.e. from relations, friends, money lenders, and from personal savings. Oduwole (1989) opined that given the non-availability of banks in most rural areas in developing countries, such money might not have been put into productive use in the first place. Furthermore, small and medium scale industries do utilize local raw materials such that “the ingenuity in discovering and utilizing of local raw materials has increased the productive base of the country without necessarily constituting a drain on the country’s foreign exchange reserves”. This is particularly so in respect of raw materials which are not available in large quantity, hence cannot support the operation of a large enterprise.

Seed-bed Function, SMEs have been credited with a “seed-bed” function (Freear, 1980). In other words, SMEs represent the little acorn out of which the mighty oaks – the large-scale industries – had grown. Empirical research has revealed that SMEs do serve as training grounds for the development of entrepreneurial skill (Adejugbe, 1987). Oguntoye (1975) asserted that most of world big-time businesses started on small scales from where they acquired requisite entrepreneurial skill for the management of big businesses today. The same is true of Phillips International, an internationally acclaimed giant in the electrical/electronic industry, which started as a small outfit at the proprietor’s backyard in Netherlands, and several organizations world-wide.

 Inter-sectoral Linkage, according to Usman (1990), SMEs can provide important intersectoral linkages through their use of indigenous raw materials (e.g. agro-allied industries), offer support on agricultural inputs (e.g. production of agricultural tools and equipment) or through the use of waste materials from large firms (scrap metal, wood, rubber, etc). Price Stability, with the production of more goods from local resources and at relatively cheaper cost, SMEs do contribute meaningfully towards ensuring price stability. For instance, one of the underlying policy objectives for the establishment of NERFUND is to stimulate the spontaneous rise of small and medium scale productive activities among others is to produce more goods and check demand-induced inflation and restrain rising prices.

Reduction of Regional Economic Imbalance, Oduwole (1989) has also credited SMEs with the ability to reduce regional economic imbalance. His argument hinges on the fact that unlike big industries which are usually located in urban centers where basic infrastructural facilities like electricity, pipe-borne water, good road, etc must exist, SMEs can be located where some of these basic amenities are non-existent. The net effect of this advantage is that there will be less pressure on the limited infrastructure in the urban centers which would have resulted from rural-urban drift, while rural areas will witness speedier development. This attitude is capable of reducing social tension which in turn may have serious repercussions on political stability.


2.3 Gender, Ownership and employment in Informal sector

Globally, the number of female business owners continues to increase steadily worldwide, today women in advanced market economies own more than 25 per cent of all businesses (NFWBO, 1998). Women make up 40 percent of the world’s work force today, and many of the sectors critical for economic growth in some of the poorest countries rely heavily on women employees, such as agribusiness, tourism, textiles and garments, and others.

In the USA, Canada, the number of women-owned businesses in the United States is growing at twice the rate of all firms. Currently around 38% of US firms are majority-owned by women. Affirmative action has been credited with “bringing a generation of women into business ownership” in the United States, following the 1988 Women’s Business Ownership Act and subsequent measures. Progress has been much slower in most other developed countries. In the UK, for example, it is estimated that just 15% of firms are majority- owned by women (National Foundation for Women Business Owners, 1996). In 1996 in the USA, nearly eight million women-owned businesses employed more than 18.5 million people and generated more than $2.28 trillion in sales (National Foundation for Women Business Owners, 1996). In Australia, in 1995, women owned more than 40% of all small businesses with less than 20 employees, and comprised one-third of all self-employed persons. (Office for Status of Women, 1997).

According to (Chun 1999) Women own and operate approximately one-third of the firms in ‘the formal sector around 31% in Mexico, 33% in Canada, and 38%in the United States. Women, therefore, do not only form the majority of the work force in certain sectors of the economy, but their businesses have influenced, in one way or another, the structure of all our economies. Women-owned operated small and medium size enterprises have contributed significantly to the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In Canada, women own and or operate 30% of all firms (Bank of Mont real1996).  Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) is a sector of the economy that has attracted and retained government’s attention in the past two or more decades. In many developed and developing countries, the government assist them with favourable policies, plans and programmes in reversion of the older practices of giving interest to the big business. The official reversal may not be unconnected with promotion of economic self-reliance. (Onah, 2001).  Many women are entrepreneurs worldwide; however the global impact of female entrepreneurs is just beginning to gain intensity.     

In the USA one out of every four company worker is employed by a woman-owned firm, in the USA and Canada growth of women-owned firms out space overall business growth by around 2:1 (Kitching and Jackson, 2002). Similar findings are reported from Australia and parts of Asia, with more women setting up new small businesses than men, and with lower failure rates (Kitching and Jackson, 2002).

South East Asia Region, in the developing economies of these regions, statistics on type of employment give an indirect indication of women’s importance in business. The larger number of women self-employed workers supports observation that in Southeast Asia women are particularly numerous in small and micro enterprises. Women are especially active as employers and in self-employment in the trade and manufacturing sectors in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. At the end of the 1980s in these economies, women comprised more than half of the employers and self-employed in these sub-sectors (Licuanan, 1992). The challenges and obstacles that they face are quite different from those facing women in mainstream business.   As stated by  (Chun 1999) Women own and operate  firms in ‘the formal sector,  in Indonesia 30%,  Korea  32%,  and 34% in the Philippines.

In the African Region, women-owned businesses are growing rapidly as in Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America (OECD, 1998).  This informal sector is a pervasive phenomenon in almost all developing countries where the majority of the poor depend on this sector for their livelihoods. It accounts for over half of employment in many countries in Africa. In South Africa, SMEs contribute about 40% to the country’s GDP. The bulk of new employment generated in recent years in developing countries has been in the informal economy. Women’s share of informal sector employment is high, typically estimated at 60 to 80%. Informal enterprises in most African countries are dominated by small and medium sized enterprises and few grow to larger sized categories. In sub-Sahara Africa, women produce more than 80 per cent of food in agribusinesses, far greater than women in Asia 50-60 per cent, 26 per cent for the Caribbean, 34 per cent for North Africa and the Middle East, and more than 30 per cent for Latin America (Foster, 1996). This informal economy has been estimated to account for 42% of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa and 78% of non-agricultural employment, though with considerable variation by country and definition.

Women’s productive activities, particularly in industry, empower them economically and enable them to contribute more to overall development. Whether they are involved in small or medium scale production activities, or in the informal or formal sectors, women’s entrepreneurial activities are not only a means for economic survival but also have positive social repercussions for the women themselves and their social environment (UNIDO, 2001). Small and Medium Enterprises is acknowledged to have huge potential for employment generation and wealth creation in any economy. Reasons adduced for this are because they utilize the large labour surplus that exist in less developed economies, they yield quick returns and given their small initial capital requirements, they facilitate the exploitation, mobilization and utilization of local capital resources (Adejugbe, 1987; Nahdiv, 1992).

Small and medium sized enterprises have the ability to transform into large industries because of the mobility of savings from income generated.  Recent evidence shows that access to savings services can also increase enterprise investment, especially among female entrepreneurs (Dupas and Robinson, 2009).  According to the classical theory of savings the higher the country’s savings rate, the higher the country’s investment rate. The investment in capital stock (human, infrastructure and machinery) prompts industrial growth, economic efficiency, production of quality products, high levels of employment as the machines cannot operate themselves. With abundant products, there exist stable prices and hence stable high growth. As Dercon (2002) findings suggests about data from Africa, the returns to the assets used by households for ‘’saving’’ are often positively correlated with incomes. 


According to Lesotho bureau of statistics, (2009) private savings in Lesotho accounted for 23.2% of GDP, of which 56.4% accrue to women and 43.6% accrue to men. According to Katz (2003: 33-35) and Deere (2005: 17)  In broad terms, the feminization of agriculture refers to women’s increasing participation in the agricultural labor force, whether as independent producers for agribusinesses, as unremunerated family workers, or as agricultural wage workers. Women work not only in the fields and pastures, but also in agricultural processing and packing plants

In Liberia, this sector provides employments to 569,790 persons (Liberia’s Millennium Development Goals 2010 report). Women ownership of firms constitutes 52.97% with full-time female worker at 22.92% and female top managers at 29.93%. ( 2009 report) Micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) make important contributions to economic and social development. In all economies they constitute the vast majority of business establishments, are usually responsible for the majority of jobs created and account for one third to two thirds of the turnover of the private sector.  It is estimated that the number of SMEs is more than 12,329 approximately eighty percent (80%) of Liberia’s businesses with 80% of them located in the urban area. Its composition is more of the informal sector than the formal sector and mainly deals in agro-processing, ( 2009 report).

Informal sector is heterogeneous and can mean different things to different people. For the purpose of this study, we will use the definition of the International Labour Conference (ILO, 2002) “all economic activities that are –in law or in practice- not covered or insufficiently covered  by formal arrangement’’ According to Beachman and Cummnghand (1970) the small business is an indispensable part of even the most advanced industries. It functions in such a way as to fill in the gaps left by larger firms producing small outputs, filling batch orders and carrying out special processes; which larger firm with their more rigid structure and heavy overheads would find prohibitively expensive to carry out itself. With proper digestion of some work that have relationship with this study, small and medium scale enterprise will play a sin-qua-non role in poverty alleviation, economic growth and achievement of millennium development goals in Liberia and world at large.

 2.4 Africa’s National Economies: Sources of revenues and computation

Revenue is an increase in net worth resulting from a transaction. For general government units, there are four main sources of revenue: taxes and other compulsory transfers imposed by government units, property income derived from the ownership of assets, sales of goods and services, and voluntary transfers received from other units. 1993 SNA Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In most African countries, the major sources of revenues are from taxes which are basically categorize in taxes on goods and services (comprising VAT and excise duty), direct taxes (including PAYE, corporation income tax, personal income tax and tax imputed on turnover), and tax on international trade. Revenues are also generated from non-tax resources and these are computed on an annual basis as indicators of GDP.  Gross domestic product (GDP) refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. It is often considered an indicator of a country’s standard of living. GDP can be determined in three ways, all of which should, in principle, give the same result. They are the product (or output) approach, the income approach, and the expenditure approach. It is computed as follow: The major expenditure components are personal consumption (C), gross private domestic investment (I), government purchases (G), and net exports (X-M); they form the familiar identity of: GDP = C + I + G + (X-M).

In East Africa, Rwanda‘s total domestic revenue as a percentage of GDP rose from 8.4% in 1993, to 14.2% in 2008. In the year that the genocide took place (1994), however, total domestic resources as a percentage of GDP fell to 3.6%. In the period between 1993 and 2008, on average the split between tax and non-tax revenues was 93.3% to 6.3%. Observations made by the IMF (2009c), are that tax growth has ranged between 0.25% and 0.3% of GDP every year from 1997. 

Taxes on goods and services have formed the largest proportion of total domestic revenues – at about 48% of the total tax revenue. Since 2001, and with the exception of 2004, the contribution to total taxes from direct taxes has been on a steady rise – in 2008 the share of direct taxes peaked at 37.5%. The share of taxes on international trade to total tax revenues has steadily decreased from a high of 41% in 1995, to just over 10% in recent years. This reduction is explained by an initial reduction in import duty rates – ―with the maximum rate declining from 60% to 40%‖ (IMF, 2000). Furthermore, ―Rwanda‘s weighted average tariff rate was 11.3% in 2008. South Africa tax revenue accounted for 28.9% of GDP in 2010, 28.1% in2011. 

In Ghana, West Africa government major revenue sources are based on taxes. Total government revenue grew by more than 26 times between 1983 and 1993, causing the revenue/GDP ratio to increase from 5.6% in 1983 to nearly 24% in 1993 (GOG,1994). Tax revenue increased from 4.6% of GDP in 1983 to 12.7% in 1987. Thereafter, the share declined gradually to 11.6% in 1990 before rising sharply to 18% in 1993 (GOG, 1988, 1994). Of the non-grant sources of revenue, taxes on domestic goods and services showed the highest growth, with revenue from this source in 1993 exceeding 125 times the level in 1983. Revenue from taxes on foreign trade and transactions in 1993 were 35 times the level in 1983, while income and property tax revenue in 1993 was over 63 times its level in 1983 (ISSER, 1993).

Liberia growth in 2010 is projected to increase from 4.6% in 2009 to 6.1% in 2010 and to 7.3% in 2011 and 8.9% in 2012. Inflation is estimated at 7.6% in 2010 and is projected to be 4.4% in 2011 before picking up to 4.8% in 2012. The dollarization of the Liberian economy helps keep inflation under control. The economy is dominated by agricultural activities. As a share of GDP, agriculture, forestry and fisheries accounted for 62.7% of GDP in 2010. Manufacturing accounted for about 5.3% of the economy in 2010, mostly from small-scale industrial activities such as the manufacture of cement, bricks, tiles, wooden and metal furniture. There are a few limited opportunities to expand the manufacturing sector to support investments in the extractive industries, road and railway construction and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  The service sector contributed 25.9% to GDP in 2010 and includes wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants (6%), transport, storage and communication (4.2%), finance and real estate and business services (2.8%), general government services (9.5%) and other services (3.4%).

These services mainly cater to the international community as well as UNMIL and are often supplied by Lebanese-owned and -operated companies. As such, profits and employment tend not to trickle down to the wider Liberian population. It is expected that total government revenue and grants will increase to 31.7% of GDP (USD 288 million) in 2010 falling slightly to 30.6% (USD 358 million) in 2011. This is projected to further drop to 30.1% in 2012 (USD 378.9 million) with strong GDP growth accounting for the deteriorating relative position. The absolute increase in government revenue and grants is driven primarily by grants, non-tax revenues1 and corporate taxes, which were expected to increase by USD 47 million. Tax revenue   was 13.4 % of GDP 2002, 20.8% in 2007, 21.2% 2008, 22.1% 2009, 22.4 %   2010 and 22.2% 2011. Source: Data from IMF; estimates (e) and projections (p) based on authors’ calculations. Fiscal year July (n-1)/June (n)                  

2.5 Constrains /challenges faced by women SMEs

Female entrepreneurs face a host of problems, many of the problems reported for American women managers are common to those faced by African businesswomen (Parikh, 1987). These include: poor access to market information and technology, inadequate financing, lack of accountability and management, poor linkages with support services and an unfavorable policy and regulatory environment. In addition to the general problems faced by women worldwide, African female entrepreneurs face problems attributable to socio-cultural factors. Cultural and social traditions play a large role in determining who becomes an entrepreneur; for example, social conditions in some parts inhibit women from starting their own businesses (World Bank,1995a 1995b). The problems facing Small and Medium sized Enterprises in Liberia today, are similar to other developing countries.

Poor access to market information and technology,Women have lower literacy rates and are less mobile, which results in lower access to financial market information. Moreover, women are perceived as risky, not creditworthy enough, therefore, information gathering might go through male intermediaries. Sally Baden(1996). Women generally lack knowledge on the financial options available to them. Furthermore, the cost of getting this information (measured in money, time, and energy) may be high due to family responsibilities. These constraints are further compounded by the need to compete in an aggressive business environment with rapid technological changes and globalization of production, trade, and financial flows (UNIDO,2001)

Inadequate financing, enterprise survey data (2009) shows that small firms are more likely to be negatively impacted by financial constraints than large firms. Women entrepreneurs are largely concentrated in small firms and hence are likely to face greater financial constraints. Broad access to financial services is not only important for individuals, but also for the economy at large; credit constraints reduce the efficiency of capital allocation and intensify income inequality by impeding the flow of capital to poor individuals with investment opportunities with high expected returns (Galor and Zeira, 1993; Aghion and Bolton, 1997; Galor and Moav, 2004, Beck, Demirguc-Kunt and Levine, 2007; Lopez and Serven, 2009).

Buvinic and Berger (1990) find that female entrepreneurs struggle more with loan applications, while Lusardi and Tufano (2009) find lower overall financial literacy among women. However, behavioral differences might also be important, leading to taste rather than statistical discrimination (Beck, Behr and Madestam, 2011).

Cross-country studies have shown that women are less likely to get financing from a formal financial institution or are charged higher interest rate than men (Muravyev, et al., 2007) and generally raise less formal and informal venture capital than men (Brush, et al., 2004). Bruhn (2009), In fact, almost all problems confronting small and medium sized Enterprises could be traced to lack of adequate funding. The issue of inadequate financing usually derives from inadequate proprietorship equity participation. Most of the Small and Medium sized Enterprises are faced with perennial problem of working capital, which hinders their ability to produce efficiently. The result is that SME have developed to depend on source of capital in form of borrowing which attracts high interest rate.

Lack of accountability and management,most women do not have access to skill training programmes in financial literacy and management capabilities, therefore they lack the knowledge of records keeping of their businesses, such as book keeping. Most women lack strategic management skills that could allow business expansion. Poor linkages with support services and an unfavorable policy and regulatory environment, berger and Udell (2001) note that shocks to the economic environment in which both banking and (SMEs) exist can significantly affect the willingness and capability of banks to lend to small and medium scale firms. Their problem is compounded by unwillingness on the part of the financial institutions to lend them on long-term basis, because they are considered highly vulnerable with high credit risk until recent economic meltdown. Their best bet is to borrow from friends, local money lenders or plough back their profit, but is it possible? “If not the adage of rich becomes richer and poor becomes poorer will not be true” Despite various structures and institutions set up by government at all levels, it is still very difficult to ascertain where those SMEs stands presently and perhaps realize their impact in the economy.

Most women borrowers obtain their credit from institutions that have special programmes for women. Credit institutions select borrowers on the basis of their gender. This restricts female borrowers to limited sources of credit, which drives up interest rates for women. Excess demand for credit induces lending institutions to use quantity rationing than price rationing to allocate capital (Yotopoulos and Floro, 1992:304). This practices marginalizes women and women’s activities (like home-base production) in their portfolios (Banden, 1996). Thus women tend to borrow against high interest rates and find it difficult to borrow for the type of activities that they prioritize. The formal financial institutions have bureaucratic loan application procedures and request collateral which makes it difficult for women with low literacy rate and possess no collateralto access.

Socio-cultural factors, although many of the constraints are shared by both female and male entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs face additional obstacles; this is due to deeply rooted discriminatory socio-cultural values and traditions, embedded particularly in the policy and legal environment, and in institutional support mechanisms. In many instances women are unable to benefit from services, and must struggle to overcome or circumvent discriminations in business circles (UNIDO, 2001). Property rights and control over assets,

legal regulations and customary rules often restrict women’s access to and control over assets that can be accepted as collateral, such as land or livestock. Women are less likely to have land titled under their name, even when their families own land, and are less likely than men to have control over land, even when they do formally own it. Biased inheritance rights often bestow land to male relatives, leaving both widows and daughters at a disadvantage (Agarwal, 2003).

Cultural norms and family responsibilities,socially accepted norms and expected family roles have a profound effect on the type of economic activities that women can engage in, the technologies available to them, the people and agencies with whom they can interact, the places they can visit, the time they have available and the control they can exert over their own resources such as capital.Gender biased attitude of banks, women’s access to financial resources is also limited by biased lending practices which requirements for married women to obtain their husband’s signature and approval for all banking transactions. Women can also be affected by a husband’s adverse credit history, which might require his wife to repay the debt or be denied credit (Naidoo and Hilton, 2006).



3.0 Introduction

This Chapter focuses on the methodology used, data sources, data analysis.  


3.1 Data type and sources

Historical review of SMEs income levels, employment, taxes paid and formalization procedures in Liberia was conducted and key sources of data include; documents from the Ministry of Labour, LISGIS, the Central Bank of Liberia, National Housing and population Survey, Ministry of Agriculture 2001 baseline Survey and other published materials in Journals and articles  like ‘‘Regional Economic Outlook’’ June 2011 by IMF, “Doing Business report’’ June 2012 by World Bank, and “Smarter Regulations for SMEs’’ October 22, 2012 by United Nations. The analysis covered data from the period 2000 to 2010. Data type and sources are based on the type of businesses women are engaged in, employment and labour force information, Level of income and tax payment categories.

3.2 Data Analysis

The data analysis used includes descriptive analysis of existing quantitative data; Excel was used for presentation of graphs, charts and tables for interpretation.  This study examines the females owned SMEs contribution to economic development, and why some of their contributions are not recognized when government is computing her revenue. This study also highlights challenges faced by female owned SMEs and propose measures for their contribution to be included in government revenue calculations. Variables include: women enterprises, contribution, and inclusion, GDP-calculation.

3.3 Analysis of existing quantitative data

When possible, quantitative data was used to document general economic trends, the structure of employment, and changes in the economic situation during the period in study. Data available is limited in Liberia; therefore, when quantitative data is used in the assessment, data is restricted to simple descriptive presentation of the information.                                    

3.4 Reliability of Data

The data are comprehensive and with no missing data and all breaks in the data can be dealt with using non-parametric statistical techniques. Hence for robustness of analysis the data have to be evaluated for suitability and its validity has to be assessed. Sorenson and Olsen (1996)

3.5 Data Evaluation

The World Bank collects and keeps a repository of data for internal use and for consumption by other consumers of knowledge. Given the credibility of the World Bank as the collecting institution one would therefore gauge their data as credible. Hence the researcher does not foresee any credibility hurdles.

3.6 Country context   

Liberia is a West African country with a long (579 km) coastline of the North Atlantic Ocean on its southwestern side, bordered on the northwest by Sierra Leone, the north by Guinea (Conakry), and  the east by Cote d’Ivoire. The country consists of 96,320 km2 of land and 15,049 km2 of sea. The terrain of the country is mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling plateau and low mountains in northeast. The country’s highest point is Mount Wuteve in the far north, rising to a height of 1,380 m. The coastline is characterized by lagoons, mangrove swamps, and river-deposited sandbars; the inland grassy plateau supports limited agriculture. Liberia has a hot tropical climate, with heavy rainfall and frequent heavy showers from May to October with a short interlude in mid-July to August, with an average annual rainfall of 170 inches (4,320 mm). During the drier winter months of November to March, hot and dry dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara, but the nights can be cool.

3.7 Social economic context

Liberia is estimated to have a population of 3.4 million (July 2010 estimate), of which Females constitute 1,989,788 and the percentage of women employed in formal sector is 2%. Women constitute 53% of agricultural work force compare to 47% of men. They produce 60% of agricultural output compare to men, 40%. Liberia has a youthful population with 44% under the age of 14 years and a median age of 18.4 years. FromtheLiberia Demographic Health Survey (2007), statistics show the literacy rates for women is 41% and 70% for men. In rural areas, literacy is at a  staggeringly low rate of  26%, and 61% for urban women compare to rural men 60% and 86% for urban men.  The gender gap in secondary school attendance is particularly high in the rural areas with a low 6% net attendance ratio for females and 13% for males.  Mortality Rates LDHS 2007 and LDHS 1999/2000 (as cited in PRS, 31) infant per thousand, 72 in 2007, under 5 per thousand  2007, Maternal mortality per 100,000 live birth 994 in 2007.



4.0 Introduction

It is estimated that the number of SMEs is more than 12,329 approximately eighty percent (80%) of Liberia’s businesses with 80% of them located in the urban area. Its composition is more of the informal sector than the formal sector and mainly deals in agro-processing, wholesale and retail trade provision goods, restaurant, manufacturing- leather bags and shoes. Some of these SMEs falls within the criteria to be included when government is computing its domestic revenue therefore are recognized while those whom do not fall within government category are excluded and not recognized.

4.2 Small and medium business operations in Liberia

The informal business sector in Liberia has been operated by both men and women before the civil conflict in 1990 and up to now. The Association of Market Women (AWM) was enacted into law in April 1978. This association was established to link rural and urban markets through their informal networks.  Rural women are not only engage in agricultural activities, producing 60% of agricultural output compare to 40% by men  but also work in trade and carry out 80% of trading activities in rural areas compare to 20% by men , and play a vital role in linking rural and urban markets. Women ownership of the SMEs increased greatly doing the civil conflict because women became bread winners, working hard to support surviving families when husbands and brothers were targeted and been killed by rebel groups.

The Association of Market Women (AMW) continued throughout the civil conflict and is still in existence with total membership at 15,000 of whom women are 11,500 and men 3,500. (Ministry of Agriculture 2001 baseline survey). Liberian women are dynamic entrepreneurs, accounting for 77% of self-employment in urban areas while men account of 23%. In both urban and rural areas, women are much more likely to own completely informal firms 60% compare to men 40% (FIAS) by IFC, MIGA and World Bank. It is estimated that the number of SMEs is more than 12,329 approximately eighty percent (80%) of Liberia’s businesses

with 80% of them located in the urban area. It mainly deals in agro-processing, ( 2009 report). See table below for some SMEs list.

Table 1: List of some SMEs owned by male and females

CountyBusiness NameAddressMajor ActivityLegal StatusWork forceSex
MontserradoPIGGY’S ENTERTAINMENT SPOTJALLAH TOWNWholesale and Retail Trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcyclesIndividual Sole Proprietorship2Female
MargibiMA KOMASSA DRUG STOREWEALA, CINTA TOWN SHIPWholesale and Retail Trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcyclesIndividual Sole Proprietorships4Female
MargibiGOOD WILL AUTO PARTS SHOPKAKATA  MAIN STREETWholesale and Retail Trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcyclesIndividual Sole Proprietorship2Male
MontserradoHENKO ENTERPRISE INC. BLVEV.O. A. RDArts, entertainment and recreationPartnership2Male
Grand KruORETHA TEAHS’ SHOPZONE ONE, BIG SUEHNWholesale and Retail Trade;  repair of motor vehicles and motorcyclesIndividual Sole Proprietorship2Female
BomiGOOD WAY ENTERPRISEKPO TOWNWholesale and Retail Trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcyclesIndividual Sole Proprietorship4Female
BomiSTRONG IN DURING THINGS BUSINESSKLAY TOWNWholesale and Retail Trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcyclesIndividual Sole Proprietorship2Female
River GeePUTUKEN CLINICPUTUKEN,  BROAD STREETHuman health and social work activitiesJoint Venture7Female
BongJORQUELLEH MEDICAL CLINICKOKOYAH ROAD, GBARNGA CITYHuman health and social work activitiesIndividual Sole Proprietorships2Female
BongCENTRAL BANK OF LIBERIAFAR EASTFinancial and insurance activitiesIndividual Sole Proprietorship3Female
BongFOUNDATION FOR INTERNATIONAL DIGNITY (FIND)FAR EAST GBARNGA CITYOther services activitiesIndividual Sole Proprietorship4Female

Understanding the economic activities of women and men must start with attention to what ‘’employment data ‘’ means: recognizing the difference between work in the formal and informal sectors, between services and trade in urban areas and in agriculture, and between that which is cash-generating or subsistence and barter-oriented.  The table below shows the different economic activities both females and male SMEs are engage with. The table also presents the number and percentage of persons (male and female age 15 and above) employed by females and Males owned SMEs in both formal and informal sectors.


Table 2: Employed persons (age 15 and above), by sex and sector of main activity,
         Male                                                 Female                 Total
Economic activities     NO.  %       NO. %        NO.         %
Crop farming249,00045.9255,00048.5504,00047.2
Wholesale/retail trade25,0004.648,0009.273,0006.9
Banking/Financial services3,0000.51,0000.24,0000.4
Community services57,00010.417,0003.273,0006.9
Source: CWIQ survey.

The economic activities shown in the table above contain both formal and informal employed persons. Out of the total of 47% Crop farming employed persons, 45.9% are males and 48.5% are females. Livestock/poultry contains 0.1% of male and 0% of females.

Forestry and logging contains 0.3% for males and 0.1% of females. Fishing also shows that 0.4% males are hire compare to 0.2% females. There is a wide gap in the mining sector, male employed persons is 1% while there is no female employment in this sector.  The percentage of men and women working in the manufacturing sector is equal 0.3% each. In Construction males workers dominate with 2.3% and women 0%.  In the wholesale / retail trade women dominate with 9.2% employed persons and men 4.6%. Transportation/storage/communication employed 1.5% males while women percentage 0.3% out of the total of 0.9%. The banking and finance activities hired male percentage is 0.5% and female constitute 0.2% of the total of 0.4%. Community services, utilities and others are 10.4% & 3.2%, 0.5% & 0.2%, 32.1% & 37.7% respectively for both males and females. 

However, the different economic activities that SMEs are engaged in cut across four main sectors in Liberia. They include: informal non-agriculture, agricultural businesses, formal non-agriculture and corporations. Their percentages of ownership are shown in figure 1 below. This is also the breakdown of employers by gender including workers.

Figure 1: Breakdown of employers by gender

From the figure above, females ownership of informal non-agriculture sector is 53.10% compare to39.86% of men. In agricultural businesses females are slightly above males by 36.23% and 34.77% respectively. Males dominate the formal non-agriculture sector with 7.20% compare to 5.05% of females.  Men employed in the civil service constitute 8.87% compare to females 2.35%. Males still dominate the NGOs sector comprising of 4.08% while females are 1.66%. The same with the international organization, men 1.62% compare to 0.44%. public corporations are also being dominated by men 1.43% and females 0.41%.

4.3 Classifications of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Liberia

A joint initiative of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation of Liberia in keeping with International norms designed the ‘’Liberia business registry’’ and the  classification of businesses in its policy paper, in term of full time, non-family employment.  See table below.

Table 3: Classification of SMEs

Type of enterprisesNumber of full time, non-family employees
Microenterprises                          0-3
Small enterprises                         4-20
Medium enterprises                         21-50
Large enterprises                         50<

Source: Ministry of Commerce and Industry MSMEs policy July 2011

Although often spoken of as one group, MSMEs actually are two distinctive kinds of businesses: microenterprises and small and medium enterprises. Microenterprises are very small, usually family businesses with only family labor or perhaps one or two, full or part time employees. Some produce simple products like soaps and metal and wood­en products, but many are engaged in petty trade and provision of basic services. Some are registered as petty traders, but many are informal and not registered with any government agency. They are businesses in that they are profit-oriented, but they are not companies in any corpo­rate sense. Few keep business accounts separate from their personal or household accounts.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are companies with paid employees. They typically are far more organized than microenterprises, with fixed premises and business lines, more complex operating systems, company ac­counts, and a greater need for investment capital. SMEs are, or should be, registered as partnerships, sole propri­etorships or corporations.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry registry lists 7,062 enterprises (including NGOs) that registered for the first time or undertook annual “re-registration” in 2009, the last full year for which data are available. Of these, 2,174 were corporations, 237 were partnerships and 4,594 were sole proprietorships. Both women and Men agree that formal businesses are in advantageous positions but the perceptual barriers to engaging in the formalization process and a widespread lack of knowledge about the process affect men and women, they are substantial for women. Yet beyond those barriers, women report ‘’gender-based experiential differences’’ such as ’’being victimized by or receiving unfair treatment from licensing officials.’’ Women that cannot meet the requirements for formalization constitute 37% compared with 16% men. Often women lack the requisite license or certification and fully 44% of women who have not gotten a product license cite; misuse of power by local administrations officers as a reason, compared with 21% of men.

As relates to the perceptual barriers to engaging in the formalization process and the widespread lack of knowledge about this process can also be attributed to the level of education attained as a business entrepreneur.  According to the Ministry of Education statistics, the level of education and literacy in Liberia are extremely low for everyone but substantially worst for women. See table below;

Table 4: Educational attainment amongst children and adults

  Age    Sex    No educationSome primaryComplete primarySome secondaryComplete secondaryHigher/ tertiary
  6-9Boys87.212.8     –      –      –   –
Girls86.913.1     –      –      –   –
  10-14Boys42.      –   –
Girls43.850.33.32.3      –   –

Source: Liberia Demographic Health Survey (2007)

One can analyze from the table above, that there is a huge number of kids that have been out of school for both ages 6-9 and 10-14. Though, there is a slight difference between girls   86.9 and boys 87.2 at age 6-9 and girls 43.8, boys 42.2 at age 10-14.  At secondary level, boys are slightly higher with 2.6 and girls 2.3. As regard women, education is very curial to the development of their entrepreneur ability. The statistics shows that the number of women who are not educated, 42.4 is far beyond that of their men counterpart 17. 6. Even at the higher level, there is a great disparity 8 to 2. Additionally, women themselves are heterogeneous,  is staggeringly low at 26%, compared to 61% for urban women and 60% and 86% for rural and urban men, respectively. The gender gap in secondary school attendance is particularly high in the rural areas with a low 6% net attendance ratio for females and 13% for males.  In urban areas this gap is much smaller (29% and 32%) respectively. This low level of educational attainment among the population reduces the formalization of businesses and productivity.

 4.4 Classification for SMEs inclusion in GDP computation

The Ministry of Finance, which is given the responsibility to compute government revenue, has ‘’set criteria’’ for SMEs inclusion. SMEs that meet these criteria are recognized and included when government is computing its GDP, but those SMEs who do not fall within the required range are not recognized and therefore, excluded when government is computing its sources of income. Those SMEs that are excluded have caused government revenue for the past decades to be understated, as their productivities have not been captured yet, they are crucial to poverty reduction and national development. Criteria for SMEs inclusion see table below;

Table 5: Criteria for SMEs qualification

Requirements  for business establishmentObligations of Tax Payers  
a) Registration with the Liberia Business Registry or  Ministry of Commerce and Industry as either: sole- proprietor,  Corporation or partnershipa) Voluntarily  register with the Bureau of   Internal Revenue, Ministry of Finance as taxpayer
b)  Application freesb)  comply with tax laws
Sole proprietor 2000LD Partnership   3000LD          Corporation 4000LDc) file correct, complete, and candid return and statements with time frame
  Articles of incorporation filling fees: 100  shares-20LD 500  shares -100LD 1000 shares-200LDd) pay due taxes e)  maintain accounts, documents and  records of transactions    
 Partnership agreementCopy of Articles of incorporation, (used standard articles for  commend cases)f)  be truthful and honest in dealing with tax authorities g) provide complete and accurate information as require by law  h) annual turnover below 5, 000,000LD; i)  5,000,000-29,999,999 j) 30,000,000 above
c)  Evidence of payment fees
Copy of identification documents
Information for tax authority

Sources: Liberia Business Registry2012 Powered By NRD & MWETANA, Ministry of Finance June 2011Note: the above information is only applicable to Liberian; requirements for foreigners are different and not included in this table.

The government of Liberia, like many other countries generates its income from Tax revenue, Non-tax revenue and Grant. The contribution of SMEs is captured under tax revenue. Tax is very broad, therefore the Bureau of Internal Revenue at the Ministry of Finance classified tax operations under the following divisions and most of the taxes paid by SMEs fall within small tax division. See table below;

Table 6: Tax operations

 Division Taxable Amount in Liberians dollars
1.  Large taxpayer Division (LTD)Caters to taxpayers with an annual turnover of L $30,000,000 and Above
2.  Medium Taxpayer Division (MTD)Caters to taxpayers with an annual Turnover of L $5,000,000 to $29,999,999.
3.  Small Taxpayer Division (STD)Caters to taxpayers with an annual turnover below L $5,000,000.
4.  Rural Tax DivisionCaters to taxpayers in the rural areas and it is sub-divided into two(2) regions—Western Region and Eastern Region
5.  Real Estate Tax DivisionThe Real Estate Tax Division administers the assessment and collection of taxes on real property, which includes residential and commercial houses and land.

Sources: Bureau of Internal Revenue, Ministry of Finance -April 2011

From the table above, SMEs are obligated to pay taxes depends on their annual turnover. If an enterprise turnover is below 5millon Liberian dollars, it is classify as small taxpayer. Annual turnover between 5 million to 29 million is medium taxpayer and from 30 million above is considered large taxpayer. Petty traders also pay taxes in the form of registration fees at the small tax division. Though revenue generated from SMEs is not more because of the formalization barrier. But SMEs contribute largely to Employment and Economic grow.


4.5 Characteristics of women own Small and Medium sized Enterprises

 The most important thing is the substantial heterogeneity of SMEs within Liberia. They are likely to vary substantially in size itself, of course, from the small retail outlet to the substantial manufacturing enterprise. They are also likely to vary widely in their organizational form, which will typically include, for instance, sole proprietorships (with or without employees), small corporations (public or private), professionals, and partnerships. These latter differences may in turn carry differing obligations for record-keeping that affect the costs to the enterprises of complying with (and to the revenue authorities of administering) alternative possible tax obligations. Public corporations, for example, commonly have stronger accounting requirements than do sole proprietorships, and enterprises with employees may be subject to the full panoply of requirements associated with withholding labor income taxes. Table 1.6 provides a sense of how these size classifications are used in this paper.

Table 7: Characteristics of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises

Number of taxpayersNonManyModerate
Type of taxpayersIndividuals (small traders or non specialized service providers); family owned businessesFamily-owned business with some employees; highly specialized self employersLegal entities with several employees; partnerships
Ownership StructureOwner, employee and manager are one and the sameOwner is generally the managerOwner is usually different from managers
Type of transactionsMainly cash; high informalityCash/bank; some informalityBank; much more formal
Place of businessFrequently non-fixed street vendors  Fixed (but may be volatile)         Fixed
Business administrationNon-professional (family-run)Some professional assistanceRegular professional Advice
Accounting StandardsNo records;  Some records, limited to partial compliance; limited understandingPartial to good compliance and recordkeeping
Nature of  productsRetail, Cold water, vegetable and fruits, palm oil, cassava, wheelbarrow boys etc.Grocery shops, dress making, beauty saloons Restaurants, Food processing, used clothesManufacturing, poultry, clinics, schools,  communication, Accommodation etc
Legal statusnonSole proprietorCorporation/ partnership
Annual incomeLess than 50,000LDLess than 500,000LD500,000 above
Annual tax payment         –400-3,500 LD4000LD
employment 1Between 1-55 above
Market reachCommunity/localLocal/cross borders,National/Regional
Life-span of businessVery dynamic; rapid creation and dissolutionDynamic; may disappear, stay small or growMore stable (consolidated) business activities

4.6 Comparative analysis: set criteria for GDP inclusion and characteristics of SMEs

As regards tax payment, the revenue authority focuses on registration requirements and annual turnover. Tax payments are not based on number of employees, market size, Business administration,Type of transactions, ownership structure etc. Based on the criteria set by the Bureau of Internal affairs, SMEs annual turnover is tax. As stated earlier, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry registry lists 7,062 enterprises (including NGOs) that registered for the first time or undertook annual “re-registration” in 2009, the last full year for which data are available. Of these, 2,174 were corporations, 237 were partnerships and 4,594 were sole proprietorships.

However, the 2008 LISGIS survey estimated approximately 12, 329 SMEs which constitute 80% of all Liberia businesses and Women ownership of firms constitutes 52.97%.   Now with little subtraction, it is known that 5,267 SMEs are operating outside the criteria set by the revenue authority; therefore, their contribution is not recognized when government is computing national revenue. Though, they possess most of the characteristics of SMEs. As it was also stated in the criteria, an enterprise has to register with both the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Ministry of Finance to be considered a taxpayer, some SMEs registered with the Finance Ministry and paid taxes without formalization at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, this conflicts the records.  According to the 2008 taxpayer data, 9,844 enterprises have paid taxes, amount paid ranged from 400LD to 4,000 depending on each enterprise annual turnover.  Now, according to the statistics of the Liberia business Registry, 7,062 (including NGOs) are registered for data available up to 2009.  The analysis between taxpayer data and the registration data shows that 2,782 SMEs have paid taxes without been registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. These data shows irregularity for the period under review, therefore the government needs to reduce formalization requirements and processes to have coherent information on SMEs. Though SMEs in Liberia, does not contribute more to government revenue because of their income level, but they do contribute significantly to economic growth through the creation of employment.

4.5 Economic contribution of small and medium businesses in Liberia through Employment

This sector provides employments to 569,790 persons (Liberia’s Millennium Development Goals 2010 report). Women ownership of firms constitutes 52.97% with full-time female worker at 22.92% and female top managers at 29.93%. ( 2009 report). Micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) make important contributions to economic and social development. In all economies they constitute the vast majority of business establishments, are usually responsible for the majority of jobs created and account for one third to two thirds of the turnover of the private sector. Though, rates of employment and labour force participation are high, not all employment are the same. Most Liberians work in small scale agriculture and in informal nonagricultural activities. The chart below shows the Gender breakdown of Labour by sector.

Figure 2: Gender breakdown of Labour by sector

The chart above shows gender division of Labour force of Liberia. In the service sector females constitute 40.8% compare to 59.13% of males. In the manufacturing sector, females constitute 36.36% compare to men 63.64%. The mining and planning sector is dominated by men 92.41% with women labour force at 7.59%. Forestry is also dominate by men 78.2% compare to 21.74% women and lastly, the Agricultural and fisheries constitute 50.58% of women labour force compare to men 49.62%.

However, Liberia’s population of about 3.4 million is young as show in the figure below, over half of the population is under 20 years of age and 30 percent is under 10 years.

Figure 3:  Age Distribution of the Population

Source: 2008 National Population and Housing Census (NPCH

This age distribution has important implication. This means, the number of dependents in an average Liberian household is likely to be high. Income from a single job will have to support many individuals, many of whom are children. This increases the poverty risk of households particularly when access to formal employment becomes less stable and therefore makes the importance of creating SMEs employment opportunities more acute. Women who are marginalized from formal employment engaged in SMEs activities to buttress income from husbands who are employed in formal sectors or to support family as female headed household. Secondly, the challenge government have is to re-integrate into the labour market, the large number of youth who were affected by the 14years of civil conflict and lack skills. Nevertheless, the creation of employment opportunities by the informal sector for this large number of youth frees the government from another social and economic instability.

4.6 Reason why women small and medium business miss in GDP computation

Some SMEs are missed out in GDP calculation because of the complicated process of formalization. According to the criteria set by the government, an entrepreneur has to first registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and meet all requirements before proceeding to the Ministry of Finance to register again as taxpayer, this procedure is too complicated and time consuming for females entrepreneurs.  It increases their work burden as they combine both reproductive tasks, such as domestic work, caring for children, the sick, cooking, cleaning e .t. c and productive role such as income generating activities. Therefore some female entrepreneurs disregard one of the procedures as time would not permit them. Therefore, sometimes, there is incomplete information about female SMEs that cannot be used when computing government revenue, as such, they are not recognized fully and are excluded

Registration practices are often needlessly bureaucratic (involving multiple agencies, and multiple crosschecks), complex (different laws, norms, documents and forms), expensive, and time-consuming. Delays in business registration, which often involves multiple government institutions including the tax administration, can be a significant impediment to business formation and particularly harmful to the small entrepreneur with limited start-up cash reserves.

Lack of record keeping by most female entrepreneurs, affects the documentation of relevant financial transaction which could be made available to tax authorities for effective regulation of financial flows and transactions. Therefore revenue authorities lack relevant information on females owned SMEs when computing government revenues as such, are not recognized and excluded.

Most Women- run businesses show the shortest life-span or life cycle, as such, the level of income generated is low and not steady therefore, may not be included when computing government revenue. Poor women inadvertently find themselves in the marketplace because of immediate needs to provide a livelihood for the family. Usually they position themselves in an already vibrant informal sector with scanty preparation for their work. The business performance is therefore often dismal. Entrepreneurs who have necessary training and business know-how actually grow their businesses. On the other hand, women who lack experience and education their businesses do not survive.

Most women owned businesses are inconsistency in dealing multiple items, example, today they deal in textile and tomorrow they may deal food stuff like tomatoes, as such this poses monitoring constraint on the revenue authority. The revenue authority faces monitoring constraint as women’s economic activities may be more difficult to monitor since they are often in different and smaller scale sectors then men’s activities that are finance through credit. Therefore, those females SMEs that not monitor by the revenue authority do not pay taxes and they are excluded from government revenue

According to the educational attainment data, most females lack education. Their literacy rate is very low and they are less mobile; therefore, they have less experience in formalization procedures and may find it difficult to complete these procedures by themselves. Often, they may need husband’s assistance and permission or other literate relatives who will decide when to complete the process of formalization.  In so doing they may not complete the process which leads to females own SMEs exclusion when calculating GDP. Based on the above reasons, there are some measures need to be put in place to assist female SMEs so they can be included in when government is computing its revenue.

4.7 Measures to include women small and medium business in classification

The government needs to reduce formalization requirements and procedure to have coherent information on SMEs and allow smooth, easy and single registration processes to provide enough time for females entrepreneurs bearing in mind that they often engage with both reproductive and productive tasks.

As was earlier stated that lack of education among females entrepreneurs poses constraint for the formalization process, increasing investment on females education will allow them to go through the registration smoothly without the need for husband’s or other literate relatives permission and assistance. Research on economic growth and education shows that failing to invest in female education lowers the gross national product (GNP). Everything else being equal, countries in which the ratio of female-to-male enrolment in primary or secondary education is less than 0.75 can expect levels of GNP that are roughly 25 per cent lower than countries in which there is less gender disparity in education (Hill and King, 1995).

Develop economic training courses for women entrepreneurs; at the grassroots level to provide them with the knowledge of ‘’money management’’ and ‘’book keeping’’ for accurate records and availability of financial transactions for tax authorities. The use of some popular techniques will help in this process such as : encouraging participants to map their own economic situation in terms of (job, income, expenditures, savings, credit, unpaid labour, content of goods, and distribution of resources over dependents) this allows them to reflect on circumstances and those of people related to them both new and far , and helps participants to analyze economic issues from different points of view as such  leads them into keeping proper records and finance management.

Encouraging financial institutions to provide large loans for women entrepreneurs will enable women to be consistence on products they investment in and increase their income levels. Education received and training in money management combine with large income can help women grow their business and this leads to longer life-spans of females owned SMEs.

The elimination of gender inequalities that poses barriers to women owned enterprises; such as discriminatory norms in financial institutions, formalization procedures at the various ministries and women under presentations in these institutions and processes will lead to a level plain field for women SMEs inclusion in National GDP.



5.0 Introduction

This chapter presents the conclusions and policy recommendations based on the findings.

Increasing women’s access to financial services, capacity building and reducing procedures of business formalization and tax regulations reform are necessary actions for women’ SMEs contribution recognition. 

5.1 Recommendations

Indeed, fostering the development and growth of SMEs, particularly women-owned SMEs, and improving females SMEs “accesses to financial services’’ are still the necessary steps and strategies to bring about economic, social and political innovation, employment and full -recovery from the Liberian crisis in our region. Governments should create an office or agency with the oversight responsibility for programs and initiatives to foster women’s’ business development with education & training, and access to technology for new and growing women-owned SMEs as the key emphasis, in the Liberian economies where these do not exist.

In addition, the formation of women’s business associations and the strengthening of existing women’s business associations should also be encouraged as these will provide a longer term network support which can result into better access to financing, market and information. These government agencies and women’s business associations should then work in close collaboration with each other, not only to pursue the required programs and initiatives to foster and increase development , but also to increase the public awareness to the contributions of SMEs and women-owned businesses to the Liberian economy as demonstrated by events, conferences and seminars on women-owned SMEs in Canada, Korea, the United States, Australia and Mexico, and the active partnership between government agencies and women’s business associations to assist women entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, understanding the specific barriers women’s businesses face and providing solutions to address them are necessary for countries to further leverage the economic power of women for growth and the attainment of development goals. In order to maximize the full benefits of small business in the economy, policy makers must therefore review performance in partnership with the private sector, improve the policy framework and build better strategic plans to achieve their goals. In so doing, women contribution to be recognized, data computed in the GDP should be disaggregated into male and female contributions. Almost no developing economy and only a few industrial economies provide sex-disaggregated data on participation in business. Impressionistic data suggests that women are a major force in business in developing economies.

5.2 Short- responses to the problem

Informal financial institutions such as small scale savings and credit collectives and collectors often provide basic financial services to those without access to formal banks. Credit to small scale producers could be scaled-up, if a comprehensive framework for coordinating microcredit activities is established. It should be noted that development finance is not limited to small-scale and micro-credit therefore, central bank should facilitate and support collaboration among the various types of rural and urban finance provider in the country so they can work together to promote innovation in financial services for diverse target groups and ensure that women from different economic and social backgrounds are included; reduce the costs of providing complementary support for livelihoods and gender equity strategies; and advocate and promote gender equity at local and national levels.

The Central Bank as finance providers should relax collateral requirements to include social collateral or women’s property (jewelry) or identify other forms of collateral substitutes and allow cash-flow-based lending. Interest rates should be set high enough to cover costs but moderate for women’s repayment to be meant. Design savings-led programmes to increase thrift and women’s financial management in the household, asset-building and risk mitigation. Reduce the risks associated with livestock and other types of loans by introducing insurance for women businesses. Reduce cost and increase empowerment through group- based delivery of loan. Including leasing arrangement for assets. Ensure that gender experts and women’s organizations are involved in designing financial regulations and consumer protection legislation to ensure that regulations do not inadvertently exclude women (example, through definitions of ownership) and that all regulations comply with and promote gender equality and non-crimination I fulfillment of international women’s human rights norms. The aim must be to promote a diversified sector, spinning the range from commercial enterprises to NGOs, which caters to the needs of all women as well as men and does not impose unnecessary regulations and blueprints that favour particularly powerful finance lobbies or networks.

Promote learning and capacity-building networks of practitioners and gender experts that can work together to identify, develop, and monitor good practices and innovations in increasing women’s access to financial services and also in increasing the extent to which they benefit from these services-bearing in mind that credit is also debt and that there is danger in selling financial products inappropriately to vulnerable people. 

It is also prudent to mobilize the resources of the private financial sector to improve employment opportunities. The domestic banking sector has the capacity to extend additional credit which could support productive investments in Liberia. Already, several domestic banks have created microfinance programmes. These could be expanded within a coherent framework for financial sector reform with government support. Informal and small-scale enterprises face multiple constraints in Liberia, and providing credit without addressing these other needs will have a limited impact. There is a need for a coordinated approach which pulls together small loans, capacity building, and market facilitation to support women businesses.

In addition, formation of cooperatives is another complementary strategy in which savings can be pooled and business activities made more viable. Not all enterprises will be prepared to take advantage of micro- and small-scale loan programmes. The Central Bank of Liberia should continue to stabilize the nominal exchange rate as needed. A depreciating exchange rate may hurt low-income households, small businesses, and those in informal employment. The Central Bank can help prevent a rapid depreciation of the Liberian dollar by intervening in foreign exchange markets. To the extent that resources allow, the Central Bank should pursue policies that support the currency in order to minimize the negative impact. Given the high levels of dollarization among larger firms and in international markets, a stronger Liberian dollar should not compromise the country’s export performance.

Reduce taxes during difficult times; Develop initiatives to promote and support business diversification and small and medium Liberian enterprises; examine the dual currency issue and initiate measures to strengthen parity; and improve social and physical infrastructure. Encourage more large investments through attractive investment incentives the royalty, import duty and tax structure should be harmonized to create a more level playing field. Prioritize partially mechanized commercial lowland rice production in which Liberia has a comparative advantage, using appropriate technology machines (for example, power tillers and threshers) to improve labour productivity. Fast track the Land Commission Act to reduce land tenure barriers to local rice production. Create a friendly business environment with new investors and not concentrate on immediate revenue gains but rather, longer term benefits such as sustainable employment.

SMEs need clear and understanding of tax administration tax administrations. Tax authorities should develop specialized advice for small businesses on an industry

basis (such as construction, bars and restaurants, agriculture, retail, manufacturing). Often, tax professionals and industry groups assist in the development of these products; the role of tax professionals and others should be leveraged to increase SME service at low cost. Tax administrations should seek ways to help third parties help SMEs to meet their tax obligations. Recognizing the role of tax professionals in tax administration, a growing  number of tax agencies develop tailored products and services such as specialized information alerts, call center services, internet portals, and seminars for these advisors. Partnerships with SME industry groups, small business associations, bankers and financial advisors are also very useful in providing information to their membership and clientele on general tax compliance topics and specific issues related to their field. Generally, advice and information received by SMEs through these sources has high credibility. Other governmental agencies with SME responsibilities (including those involved in registration, licensing, small business support) can be helpful and low cost distribution channels to reach the SME taxpayer.

Provide leadership and a clear strategic focus to set targets in agriculture and select three core products and focus finances, training and industry development towards meeting targets. Fiscal reforms including better management of public finances, systems & controls plus tax policy. Prioritize government budget spending in L$ rather than US$ to reduce pressure on the L$.  Bank financing of local and global value chains and commercial farming of short-cycle food crops (for example, rice and cassava) are key to improving their fortunes. The Investment Incentive Code should be reviewed and made more business friendly to investments in agriculture, real estate, hotels, energy and cement.

5.3 Implications for a national employment and investment strategy: longer-term policies

Cooperative arrangements between large producers and smallholders would help guarantee a market for the output of small-scale operations. In addition, create a development finance system for Liberia. As this report has noted, Liberia’s financial sector is getting back on its feet and it has a central role to play in the country’s future. A developmental financial system channels resources to productive uses and facilitates the management of risks associated with the process of development. There is a need to create a financial system in Liberia which supports the country’s growth and development goals. As this report has suggested, the banking sector has the potential to play a much greater role in this regard, with appropriate safeguards in place and targeted government support

Development banks, specialized public institutions that have been capitalized by government, have played an instrumental role in the industrial development of many countries by mobilizing large-scale financing for investment. In the long-term, Liberia should move towards a development finance system which links commercial banks, micro-finance, small scale credit unions, and specialized development banks. The components of such a system could be built step-by-step, beginning with what currently exists. Such a system would play an instrumental role in creating new employment opportunities and diversifying the economy.

Develop a national strategy for informal employment. Informal employment is one of the largest categories of employment in Liberia. A comprehensive and integrated strategy is needed to improve the earnings, productivity and working conditions of those employed in informal activities. This would involve the ‘formalization’ of informal employment, in the sense that strategies to support these workers and their livelihood strategies would be developed, and, in turn, those in informal employments would be expected to contribute to government tax revenues at an equitable rate. Such strategies require an integrated approach involving training, finance, technical support to enterprises, targeted public investments, improved labour force information, and regulatory changes to support the growth of SMEs. Coordination across various Ministries (for example Commerce, Labour, Finance, Agriculture, Gender, Youth, and Planning) would be needed to create an integrated approach to addressing informal employment. Liberia will depend on natural resource exports to fuel its economy for many years into the future.

5.4 Conclusion

This study has established many reasons why most of women owned SMEs are not recognized when government is computing its sources of income and the identified the types of businesses female’s entrepreneurs are engage with, the level of income generated and proposed measures to have these included GDP computation.

Most women owned businesses are not recognized because they do not meet the criteria set by government to be included when government is computing GDP. These criteria include formalization process and taxpayer obligations. Many female’s entrepreneurs faced difficulties in formalizing their businesses because of the compound complex procedures which characterized the registration process. This process required highly educated entrepreneurs. As was earlier stated in the findings, the educational attainments amongst children and adults in Liberia are extremely low for everyone but substantially worst for females.

The low level of education and literacy rate that are incorporated in social cultural norms discriminate against women and facilitates gender inequalities. These pose barriers for female’s entrepreneurs to complete the formalization process of their businesses. Women owned SMEs generate income, ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 Liberian dollars. By tax classification of income, this level of income falls under low income or small taxpayer division.  As classified by the tax authority, middle income falls between $5,000,000 to 29,999,999 Liberian dollars. Large income begins from $30,000,000 and above.

However, many measures have been proposed to mitigate barriers most female’s entrepreneurs faced which constrain them from recognition. Increased investment on female’s education will allow them to go through the registration process smoothly. Reduction of complex registration procedures can save women’s time for productive activities and finally, the development of economic training courses for female’s entrepreneurs  can  increase their money management skills and business record keeping for tax authority to  have access to business financial transactions , henceforth, leads to inclusion in GDP calculation.


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aResearch Topic:


                 Emily D. Frank


Small and medium sized enterprises, (SMEs) majority of which are owned and operated by women are acknowledged as effective instrument for economic growth through jobs creation, poverty reduction, and sustainable development.

The purpose of this paper was to establish reasons why most female owned SMEs in the informal economy contributions to economic growth in Liberia are not recognize when government is computing its sources of revenue.

Data collected through literature review and assessment of government reports of approximately 12,000 SMEs in Liberia conducted between the periods 2000 to 2010 shows that women’s SMEs that are excluded are mainly: street vendors without fixed primacy, irregular  businesses,  SMEs  with no records or poorly kept records of financial transactions. Other factors that led to exclusion are the complex formalization procedures that tool a long time and required some level of literacy. Recommendations include simplifying procedures of formalization, conducting financial literacy programmes for women and support women with loans to stabilize their businesses.

Key words:  Women owned SMEs, Contribution, Inclusion and GDP   

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