1.1 Background of the study
Poverty is one of the main economic problems facing most countries in the world. There have been several strategies to tackle poverty in its various forms and dimensions. Of recent, there has been a shift from the capital intensive large-scale industrial policy to Small-scale policy as small scale industries viewed as a sector that creates substantial employment opportunities as they are relatively labour intensive. In the light of this, different levels of government in Nigeria have embraced the challenge of promoting small and medium enterprises since 1986 through the Small Scale Enterprises Programme (SSEP) as an engine for economic growth. There are many studies on the relationship between small businesses development and poverty rates and overall microeconomic performance on the basis of aggregate time series data. But most of the studies have neglected the individual traits of businesses and gender issue, and with less attention on rural areas. This study is gender sensitive as it investigates the roles of small businesses owned by women in rural areas in poverty alleviation.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
In view of the escalating level of poverty in developing countries constituting a serious problem to economic growth and welfare state of the citizenry, various policies were implemented which could not significantly impact on the level of poverty. The failure of various reforms and development programmes to impact on the level of welfare of the citizens in terms of poverty reduction particularly through employment generation, triggered the reappraisal of the role and importance of small and medium sized