“Placing our breasts on a hot kerosene lantern”: A Critical Study of Microfinancialization in the Lives of Women Entrepreneurs in the Informal Economic Sector in Ibadan, Nigeria
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Degree Granting Department
Kevin A. Yelvington, D.Phil.
Diane Price-Herndl, Ph.D.
Fenda Akiwumi, Ph.D.
Tara Deubel, Ph.D.
Dillon Mahoney, Ph.D.
Anthropological political economy, International development, Transnational feminism
This study uses an anthropological perspective to investigate everyday lived experience of women borrowers and entrepreneurs (in the informal economic sector in Ibadan, Nigeria) relating to microfinancialization. Study such as this becomes important given the popular Yoruba metaphor “owo komulelanta” (“Placing our breasts on a hot kerosene lantern”) women borrowers use to express their experience particularly in their attempts to make repayments of MFB loans. Hence, there is a need to pay close attention and listen more carefully to operators of the informal sector and borrowers of MFB loans. This study employs ethnographic mixed methods to generate data in various marketplaces in Ibadan metropolis and its environs including MFBs/MFIs. Specifically, data were collected using participant-observation, observation, informal interviewing, informal conversational interviewing, unstructured interviewing, focus groups discussion, surveys methods and information from policy documents. The findings show that market vendors and women borrowers strategically explore and exploit different means of microfinancialization i.e. the tripod of microfinancialization; MFB loans, CICU loans, and ROSCA savings and credit shares. The tripod of microfinancialization is sine-qua-non to the survival and sustenance of among operators of the informal economic sector. Consequently, the vagaries of everyday lives in conjunction with the experience of loan repayment and fear of default subjected borrowers/group lending members to a realization that members’ presence is not as important as the availability of their dues/repayment. This conception brought about popular saying such as “Ko’wo pe ni…ki se ko’ju pe” (“Weekly/monthly repayment is a ‘must’ but attendance/physical presence at meetings is not the main priority”). Based upon ethnographic findings, I have argued that neoliberal capitalism weakens the essence of group solidarity. Also, I argued that being in debt under the microcredit scheme of MFB put a burden on the borrowers and limited their ability to function well. But, as I pointed out, despite this, many borrowers still turned to MFBs for loans. One of the major reasons was that borrowers have access to relatively huge capital. In conclusion, inspite of the afore-stated issues, microfinance appears to be a central plank in Nigerian government policies and in the strategies of the formal private financial sector in the country. Therefore, I have advocated for an approach that centers on the experience of informal sector operators and petty commodity producers. I have done so for future anthropological research on topics close to the subject of this dissertation.
Scholar Commons Citation
Olayiwola, Olubukola, "“Placing our breasts on a hot kerosene lantern”: A Critical Study of Microfinancialization in the Lives of Women Entrepreneurs in the Informal Economic Sector in Ibadan, Nigeria" (2020). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.
African Studies Commons, Social and Cultural Anthropology Commons, Women's Studies Commons