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Greener Journal of  Social Sciences Vol. 2 (5), pp. 147-159, November 2012

  ISSN: 2276-7800 © 2011 GJSS

Research Paper

Manuscript Number:101912120

Assessing the impact of women’s enterprises on household livelihoods and survival: Evidence from the North West Region of Cameroon

Christiana V. Abonge

Department of Women and Gender Studies of the University of Buea, Cameroon; Email: abonguec @, Christine.abonge @


The microenterprise sector has emerged as a major strategy to address the issues of unemployment and poverty challenging most developing economies. With limited alternatives to generate income on offer, the sector has become an attractive strategy to enhance the livelihoods of the poor as it provides low-income people with the opportunity to undertake income generation. Inspired by recent debates on the role of women’s micro enterprise activity, the paper examines women’s contribution to household survival through their enterprise activity. Drawing on empirical data from the North West Region of Cameroon, the study confirms that WMSEs are central to the economic prospects of a majority of female entrepreneurs. These enterprises offer the sole source of income for these households and are strategic in meeting the basic household needs. The paper also argues that whilst women’s enterprises provide a safety net for household survival and a springboard for women’s economic participation, entrepreneurs remain trapped in traditional, low return activities. 

Key words: women’s enterprises, livelihoods, household survival

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