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.