Training or technical assistance? A field experiment to learn what works to increase managerial capital for female microentrepeneurs
This study evaluates the impacts of a business training program serving female microentrepreneurs in Lima that have previously benefited with the titling of their urban parcels. The intervention included personal development, business management and productive skills, aiming at empowering women so that they improve the control of their lives, their access to credit, their business practices, which in turn would increase the income and welfare of their families. 1983 eligible women were randomly allocated to treatment (2) and control groups. Women in the two treatment groups (1416) were offered business training in 36 three-hour sessions over approximately 12 weeks (regular training). In addition, half of them were offered an individualized support in the form of technical assistance (TA) over a period of three extra months. A baseline survey was applied before randomization and a follow-up survey about four months after the end of the treatment (about 12 months since the beginning of treatment). We find that women assigned to treatment indeed made some important adjustments in their business practices according to the training, although they differ depending on the type of treatment received. Those that received only regular training were more prone to close losing businesses. In turn, those that also received TA, were more prone to plan and execute innovations, as well as to increase their association with business peers and its use of informal credit sources. Furthermore, such innovations led to an increase in sales of at least 18%. These results have a clear policy implication: transmitting general good business practices may be cheaper and more scalable, but we need to include specific advice to help female microentrepreneurs grow. Both, business income and practices effects accrue among those with relatively larger businesses, suggesting the existence of a threshold above which this kind of business training can help. Lack of strong effects on the participation of women in key decisions and attitudes towards gender relations suggest the need to strengthen the personal development module, but such adjustment needs to take into account that time is a scarce resource for female microentrepreneurs as they need to share their time between their businesses and their traditional responsibilities with household chores.
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