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The study was carried out to examine the contributions of micro entrepreneur recharge card retailers to the eradication of poverty in Nigeria, and also ascertain whether or not recharge card retailing qualifies as decent work. Poverty was analysed in relation to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and decent work as conceptualised by International Labour Organisation(ILO). The population focused upon in the study comprised vendors of mobile phone recharge cards in Nigeria, however a sample of one hundred and five (105) vendors was taken in Benin City, the capital of Edo State. The sample was drawn with aid of convenience sampling technique. The researcher used questionnaire as a tool for gathering data, and the data was analysed using descriptive statistics method, such as frequency distribution, means, median and mode. The findings reveal that based on the $1.25 dollar poverty benchmark set by the UN, recharge-card vendors live above the poverty line. Also based on the indicators of decent work, in which only four (4) of these indicators was used in relations to this study, it was revealed that recharge-card retailing did not qualify as decent work. The researcher is of the opinion that recharge-card retailers are truly entrepreneurs, though they operate in the informal economy. The researcher’srecommendations include, but are not limited, to the following: government should make use of recharge-card retailing as an avenue to empower and provide jobs for citizens of the country, also recharge-cardrecharge-card retailers should set up an association and register their business under an authority in other increase their representation and employment security, which are indicators of decent work. This would enable them have a voice in the market place and enable them have better working conditions.



  • Background to the Study

In September 2000,leaders of 189 countries met at the United Nations in New York and endorsed the Millennium Declaration, a commitment to work together to build a safer, more prosperous and equitable world (United Nations Development Program (UNDP),2005). The declaration focused on poverty reduction, improving the quality of people’s lives, ensuring environmental sustainability, and building partnerships to ensure that globalization becomes a more positive force for the entire world’s people (UNDP, 2003). Specific targets and indicators have been set for each of the goals, to be achieved by 2015.

Consequently, the main focus of this study is to explore whether or not micro entrepreneur recharge-card vendors in Nigeria are able to achieve the millennium development goal or poverty eradication target of earning above $1.25 per day and to ascertain whether they qualify as decent work. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have received unprecedented political commitment and have given rise to a strong consensus that poverty eradication should be the main aim of international development efforts (Abur,Eche,&Torruam, 2013).

Eradicating poverty is regarded as the most important goal of human development.  Indeed, it is now widely believed that at its core, development must be about improvement of human well-being, removal of hunger, disease and promotion of productive employment for all.Edoh,(2003) ,Kankwanda (2002), and Mahammed (2006) lend credence to the foregoing when they suggested that a nation’s first goal must be to end poverty and satisfy the private needs of all its citizens in a way that will not jeopardize the opportunity for the future generations to attain the same objective.

Micro enterprise is a time- tested wealth creation strategy particularly for the low income and minority communities that are at a financial peril in the current economic climate (Klien, 2008). For many people economic poverty is rooted from their inability to trade, and trade is a vital way out of poverty (Department for International Development (DFID), 2005). Studies have shown that small businesses in many countries are mechanisms for stimulating indigenous entrepreneurship, enhancing greater employment opportunities per unit of capital invested and aiding the development of local technology (Akande, 2005; Chen & Williams, Chrisman, Bauerschmidt and Hofer, 1998; Orisanaye, 2000; Sule, 1986; World Bank, 1995). In Nigeria, as well as in most other countries of the world, small and medium sized companies (SMEs) represent the vast majority (99%) of all enterprises (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 1998).

From a developmental perspective,micro enterprise play an increasingly significant role in poor people lives, and are one of the keys of lifting people out of poverty. Some have described them as the backbone of which the urban economy survives in most countries (Vanderschueren,Wegelin&Wekwete, 1996). In conclusion this study focuses on the Nigerian economy. In particular, we are interested in a group of micro entrepreneurs in Nigeria, namely mobile recharge card retailers. This study will explore the daily income from their trade and compare this with millennium development goal poverty line income. Finally, we will explore the perception of these micro entrepreneurs about their work in terms of whether they are satisfied with their job or not; and whether or not the trade fit decent work criteria specified by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

1.2Research problems

Micro and small businesses are catalysts to socio economic development of any country. Their contribution to economic growth, job creation and innovation is widely recognised (Audretsch&Keilback, 2004; Van stel, Carree&Thurik, 2005).The catalytic roles of micro and cottage businesses have been displayed in many countries of the world such as Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Zambia, and India, among other countries. They contribute substantially to the Gross Domestic production (GDP), export earnings and employment opportunities of these countries. Micro and small scale enterprises (MSEs) have been widely acknowledged as the springboard for sustainable economic development.  Apart from the fact that it contributes to the increase in per capital income and output, it also creates employment opportunities, encourages the development of indigenous entrepreneurship, enhance regional economic balance through industrial dispersal and generally promote effective resource utilization that are considered to be critical in the area of engineering economic development (Oboh, 2004; Odeh, 2005; Tolentino, 1996).

Most people work to earn a living. They either work for pay or they work in self-employment (Kantor, Rani &Unni, 2006). More importantly, the pay and conditions of work largely determine whether an individual is poor or rich. For many workers in self-employment such as the micro entrepreneur recharge card vendors in this study, the work being performed was chosen out of necessity (trebilcock 2006), rather than out of positive motivaters such as the love of the occupation (kantor et al, 2006).

Jobs that are taken up just to earn an income after tend to be low paying jobs that lack decency. The main concern of this investigation therefore is to explore and describe whether or not recharge card retailing provides enough income to permit the vendors live above poverty as measured by the United Nations MDGs; and whether the trade passes decent work indicators as set out by the ILO.

1.3 Research questions

In the light of the above mentioned research problems, the two research questions which this sought to answer were:

  1. Do recharge-card vendors earn daily income that is above $ 1.25 per day set by UN as the poverty bench-mark daily income?
  2. Does recharge-card retailing qualify as decent work as conceived by the ILO?
    • Objectives of the study

In line with the above stated research questions, this study sought to achieve two research objectives.

  1. To find out whether recharge-card vendors earn daily income the $1.25 per day poverty benchmark set by UN.
  2. To explore whether recharge-card retailing qualify as decent work as conceived by ILO.

1.5 Significance of the study

According to one of the key principles of the ILO, poverty anywhere is a threat to poverty everywhere (ILO, 1994). Impoverished countries or localities tend to witness inadequate supply of utilities, high rates of violent crimes citizens of such countries tend to migrate to richer nations, thereby constituting intense migration pressure on these richer countries. For example, it is said that there are more Ethiopia – trained doctors in Chicago (United States) than in Ethiopia (Blomfield, 2004 as cited in, 2014).

There is a need, therefore, for governments everywhere to improve the well-being of their citizens. One way of ameliorating poverty is for government to provide decent work conditions for their citizens, because of the intricate link between poverty and decent work indicators. To do this, government require data on specific groups of works and economic units, and their challenges (Trebilcock, 2005, p.27). A study such as this which is focuses on a particular trade from the perspectives of poverty eradication and decent work will guide policy action towards tackling these problems.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study will focus on micro-entrepreneurs sellers of mobile phone recharge cards in Benin-City, Edo State, Nigeria. It will examine the achievement or otherwiseof Millennium Development Goals and certain decent work criteria among these micro entrepreneur mobile phone recharge card retailers. Questionnaire will be used in this study to get primary data.

1.7 Limitations to the Study

                      In the process of undertaking this study certain hindrances will likely be   encountered. These includes: reluctance on the part of respondents to fully disclose information, the researcher will be constraint to use convenience sampling due to non-availability of a complete list of all recharge card retailers in Benin-city:Inability to cover localities in Benin-city due to time and funding constraint.