Enhancing the Productivity of Women-Owned Enterprises: The evidence on what works – IDRC (2016)

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IDRC, 2016 – 33 pages

This paper takes stock of what we know about women entrepreneurs, the barriers they face, the role of economic and social-cultural factors, what works in supporting women-owned businesses, and where the knowledge gaps are.

Main takeaways:

  • Training programmes can work and have positive impacts on business behaviour, but longer-term and growth impacts are not easily found. In-depth and longer training and mentorship are likely to have larger impacts.
  • While addressing constraints to financing is a key priority, finance on its own may not have a large impact on most women-owned businesses.
  • Access to mobile phones and other technologies, similarly, is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Gender-specific applications can be critical; for example, to allow women to better manage the needs of both business and household investments.
  • Women need the legal protection that business registration offers.

Growing Micro-Enterprises: How gender and family can impact outcomes – evidence from Uganda – ILO (2017)

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ILO, 2017 – 5 pages

The study was designed to test whether expanding access to capital via grants or loans would increase the profits of micro-enterprises owned by men or women and whether the ILO’s entrepreneurship training “Start and Improve Your Business” (SIYB) could further increase impacts. The gender of the programme recipient matters a lot for the impact they can obtain. Men benefit from the package of microloans and training, leading to a 54% increase in profits and similar effects on employment. Other types of assistance such as loans only, grants only, or the combination of grants and training do not lead to sustained impact for men. However, women realise no impact, whether they received loans, grants, training, or any combination of these. The results point to a recent observation by researchers: the success of programmes hinges on who has the power to utilise the interventions being offered. In Uganda, the gender of the person matters a lot for the success of the programme because men and women have different spheres of control and women are more exposed to family pressure.

Scoping Study on Customary Law and Women’s Entrepreneurship – BERF/DFID (2017)

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BERF/DFID, 2017 – 39 pages

This scoping study indicates how customary laws and practices can impact women as owners and managers of enterprises and as employees of these enterprises. Areas within the business environment that are most directly affected by customary laws and practices include:

  • Access to finance, with banking laws discriminating against women’s ability to apply for loans or credit without a signature from a male family member.
  • Business registration and licensing, with restrictions imposed on interacting with men who are not family members.
  • Land titles, registration, and administration, with a lack of property rights limiting women’s ability to use land as collateral.
  • Access to commercial courts and dispute resolution mechanisms, where judges may rule in favour of males on the basis that men are responsible for the family.

The study also includes some case studies highlighting promising interventions that directly or indirectly address customary law and practices to create a more gender-equitable business environment.

Women’s Wage Employment in Developing Countries: Regulatory barriers and opportunities – USAID (2018)

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USAID, 2018 – 88 pages

This report examines how laws and regulations in developing and transitional countries limit or enable women to enter, remain, and advance in the formal sector workforce. Specifically, this study analyses how gender inequalities in civil and administrative laws, regulatory employment restrictions, occupational licenses, employment discrimination, and sexual harassment limit women’s abilities to engage in wage employment. It also analyses how laws and policies can support working women and working parents in not only remaining but also thriving in the workplace.

Revisiting What Works: Women, Economic Empowerment and Smart Design – CGD (2016)

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Centre for Global Development, 2016 – 68 pages

Evidence-based overview of different strategies to achieve WEE. This report was developed to help guide private sector actions and investments to empower women economically. It reviewed the effectiveness of actions that have direct, near term impacts on women’s economic outcomes. It asked what credibly works for women entrepreneurs, farmers, and wage and salaried workers in developing countries, and for whom — all women, very poor, poor, non-poor women, and young women — and identified proven, promising, and high-potential interventions to increase women’s productivity and earnings in developing countries. This update to the Roadmap revisits the accuracy of these ratings. Additionally, it identifies possible underlying mechanisms and summarises those mechanisms in terms of a causal chain of measurable direct, intermediate, and outcomes. Lastly, it identifies aspects of smart design that can increase the effectiveness of interventions aimed at economically empowering women by addressing the gender-specific constraints they face.

Women’s Economic Empowerment in Technical Assistance Programmes: Examples of good practice in PSD – GIZ (2016)

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GIZ, 2016 – 104 pages

The study aims to identify selected examples of good practice in terms of gender-specific approaches and instruments used in private sector development. It looks at the gender impacts achieved, presenting the lessons learned in an easily accessible form. Additionally, it describes the main concepts involved, the methodological approach taken and some key data on the countries selected. Finally, seven case studies are included that embrace a wide range of development approaches to achieve WEE.

Main success factors for successful PSD programmes include:

  • Taking a gender-specific perspective.
  • Adopting a systematic stance and approach.
  • Entering strategic partnerships, cooperation arrangements and coordination schemes with other donors.
  • Conducting studies and analyses as the basis for strategy development.
  • Ensuring the involvement (participation) of implementing partners at an early stage in the design and implementation of measures, and
  • Ensuring regular review of the strategies, processes, and partner structure.

Will Women in Low-income Countries Get Lost in Transformation? – ODI (2015)

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ODI, 2015 – 29 pages

Economic transformation is defined as the movement of resources (factors of production) to high-productivity activities, both within and between sectors. It encompasses both the process of structural change (movement of resources between sectors) and within sector labour productivity improvements. Focusing on low-income countries, where the problem of economic transformation is most acute, this paper analyses whether a particular economic change associated with transformation is likely to bring more opportunities for women. It develops an analytical framework that analyses how economic transformation might affect economic opportunities, choices, and welfare of women in low-income countries, and it organises the available evidence using this framework.

Main takeaway:

  • The paper argues that overall, the prospects for beneficial effects are good. However, as in other aspects of economic development, the extent of benefits for women depends on whether complementary policies are put in place to increase equality of opportunity.

The Win-Win Case for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Growth: Review of the literature – GrOW (2017)

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GrOW Research Series, 2017 – 40 pages

This report explores the relationship between WEE and growth. On the one hand, it investigates if WEE contributes to growth. Does women’s more equal participation lead to increases in production, productivity and efficiency? On the other hand, it studies the evidence that, or of the extent to which, economic growth leads to enhanced WEE and gender equality. Under what conditions are there larger positive effects?

  • Section one reviews definitions of women’s empowerment, particularly economic, as they are used in research on links between empowerment and growth.
  • Second, it looks at the empowerment to growth linkage, with a short overview of the recent advocacy of the ‘win-win case’, and the evidence that lies behind this.
  • The third section reviews what is known about how economic growth and transformation contributes to gender equality.
  • The last section concludes and highlights policy areas that are important to galvanise the synergy between growth and gender equality.

Investing in Women: New evidence for the business case – IFC (2017)

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IFC, 2017- 80 pages

The business rationale for gender-smart solutions is diverse and wide-reaching. Diversity can improve talent pipelines, strengthen market development, and build an enabling investment climate. By considering the full scope of the business case, companies can unlock opportunities for increased profit, growth, and innovation. This report supports the business case of investing in women by highlighting quantitative evidence and best-practice examples from IFC global clients and partners.

Main takeaways:

  • Companies with gender-diverse boards generate a higher return on equity than those without.
  • Companies with gender-diverse boards outperform those with no women in terms of share price performance during times of crisis or volatility.
  • High-performing companies are almost 50% more likely than low-performing companies to report that men and women have equal influence on strategy development.
  • Investors in companies with strong gender diversity strategies receive excess returns running at a compound annual growth rate of 3.5%.

Key Facts in Women’s Economic Empowerment – WOW (2019)

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2019, WOW – 20 pages

This query supports the ability to influence the investment community by selecting and analysing a set of ‘Key Facts’ that support the case for WEE. Several “facts” on the status of WEE and gender gaps – or on the business or development opportunities of addressing gender gaps – are frequently cited. However, there is often limited understanding of the strength or breadth of evidence that lies behind them. This is a challenge for evidence-based policymaking and where data that is not robust is used, it risks undermining rather than strengthening the case for WEE. The key questions that this query answers are:

  • What are the key facts and opportunities on WEE that would be of most interest to developing country investors and partners involved in entrepreneurship?
  • What is the strength/breadth of that evidence base for these facts and opportunities?

This query focuses on four thematic areas:

  • Creating better jobs and building skills for business performance and growth.
  • Financial inclusion and women’s entrepreneurship.
  • Expanding access to technology and infrastructure.
  • Addressing legal and property rights and workplace discrimination and social norms.