Business Training for Women in Ahmedabad, India

Last registered on December 13, 2016


Trial Information

General Information

Business Training for Women in Ahmedabad, India
Initial registration date
December 13, 2016

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
December 13, 2016, 3:09 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Northwestern University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Duke University
PI Affiliation
Harvard Kennedy School of Government
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Despite the efforts of microfinance institutions and other development practitioners, a gender gap in micro-entrepreneurship persists. We offered two days of business training and assistance in identifying a medium-term financial goal to a random sample of women of different castes and religions in India. A random sub-sample of women were invited to attend the training with a friend. Women trained with a friend doubled their demand for loans and expanded their business activity, resulting in higher household income. This impact was stronger among women from religious or caste groups with social norms that restrict female mobility.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Field, Erica et al. 2016. "Business Training for Women in Ahmedabad, India." AEA RCT Registry. December 13.
Former Citation
Field, Erica et al. 2016. "Business Training for Women in Ahmedabad, India." AEA RCT Registry. December 13.
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Experimental Details


We evaluated the effects of a business-training program and different levels of peer support on women of different castes and religions in Ahmedabad, India. The implementing partner in this study, the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) Bank--based in the Indian city of Ahmedabad--offers financial services to 170,000 women who work primarily in the informal sector in home-based occupations such as vegetable vending, construction work, and rag picking. A group of 636 women between the ages of 18-50 were randomly selected from SEWA Bank's female clients. Two thirds of the sample was then randomly chosen to receive an invitation to participate in a two-day training course, with one third invited to attend with a friend and one third invited to attend alone. The remaining one-third served as a comparison group and did not receive an invitation to participate in the training.

The two-day training course included components on financial literacy (e.g. accounting skills), business skills (e.g. investment strategies), and building aspirations. The aspirations portion of the training included a short video about SEWA clients who used good financial practices to increase their income and raise themselves out of poverty. At the end of the first day of training, women were asked to write down their 6-month financial goal, and during the second day, they worked in groups to identify steps to meet that goal.

Women who participated in the study were categorized according to their caste and were assigned an index rating based on five aspects of women's behavior: ability to socialize alone, requirements to cover one's face or wear a veil, ability to speak directly to elders, ability to leave the house or neighborhood alone, and ability to remarry. According to this index, Muslim women faced the most severe restrictions, followed by upper-caste women. Scheduled-caste women faced the least severe restrictions.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
- Program take-up
- Borrowing (amount and use)
- Savings
- Business activity (measured in self-reported, concrete plans to increase business revenues, self-reported plans of expansion in sales, actual changes in sales amount)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Between September 2006 and April 2007, we worked with staff from India's largest women's bank, SEWA Bank, to provide over 400 female bank clients in Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat, India, access to a two-day business counseling program. Our sample consisted of 636 women age 18 to 50 who had actively saved or borrowed from SEWA Bank between December 2004 and January 2006. We followed a two-stage selection process: first, we selected all 435 eligible women from a pool of 1900 SEWA clients for whom a socioeconomic survey, which we use for baseline data, had recently been conducted. Second, in February 2007, we randomly selected an additional 201 women from the entire SEWA Bank customer database (using the eligibility criteria listed above), and conducted a brief baseline survey for these clients.

Of the 636 participants, 212 clients were randomized into the control group, 217 were selected for the first treatment arm - train alone - and 207 were selected for the second treatment arm - train with a friend. We followed a two-step stratified randomization procedure: the first stratification is provided by the two-stage selection procedure described above (the randomization for the first 435 women and the additional 201 clients occurred at different times). Second, we stratified by SEWA branch, with a woman being classified by one of the four bank branches nearest to her home. Occupation, religion, caste, and other socio-demographic characteristics are often correlated with the area in which the woman lives, so branch stratification helped balance the sample on these characteristics. In addition, trainings occurred at all four branches (with women recruited for the trainings at their nearest branches). The overall treatment group, combining both arms, consists of 424 women.

Women were randomly assigned into control, treated alone, and treated with friend groups. Surveyors were unaware of the individual's treatment status at the time of the baseline survey. After the completion of the baseline survey, surveyors were given a list of women to recruit for training. Typically, two surveyors, accompanied by a local SEWA bank officer (“saathi”), went to invite each woman in the treatment group. The woman was informed that many women had previously attended business training and had reported benefiting from it. In addition, she was informed that she would receive tea and snacks at each training, and if she attended both days of the training, she would receive Rs. 40 to cover her travel expenses. Women were not otherwise financially compensated for attending the training. During recruitment, the woman was also shown a business-training certificate of participation and a photograph of training participants, which she would receive upon completion of the training on the second day. The estimated cost of providing the training is Rs. 157 (about four US dollars in 2007) per participant, including the instructor fee, classroom costs, recruitment, snacks, and transportation reimbursement.

Each study client invited for the training was informed that one of her friends may be invited to the same training if enough spots were available. She was then asked to list the names, occupations, and addresses of three friends, two from her occupation and one with a different occupation. For women in the treatment- with-friend group, we randomly selected one of the three friends listed and a surveyor visited the woman's friend and invited her to attend the same training session.

We had a single instructor team, and thus training sessions rotated among the four locations, with the order and schedule determined by classroom availability in the SEWA branches. Women were recruited to attend a particular training session at their nearest SEWA branch. Typically eight study participants were invited for training per session - four from the treatment-alone group and four from the treatment-with-friend group. Actual attendance was, therefore, up to twelve if all study participants attended and those eligible to do so brought friends. Toward the end of the intervention, nine or ten women were often recruited, including women who were unable to attend earlier. The morning of the training, the recruiters would return to the women's homes to remind them about the training later that afternoon. Those who had telephones were also called as an additional reminder.

In total, we conducted 57 two-day training sessions over an eight-month period from September 2006 to April 2007, and 292 women from the sample attended training. In the estimation, each woman's randomly assigned treatment status rather than her attendance at training is used to identify the program effects. For analysis purposes, the 212 women who were randomized into the control group were assigned to a training session. We followed the same protocol as for the treatment group and assigned control women to a treatment session at their nearest SEWA location. In 32 percent of groups, we assigned three control members, in 65 percent we assigned four control members, and in the remaining 3 percent (two groups), five control participants were assigned per group. For the follow-up survey, control group and treatment clients in the same session were surveyed at the same time. In our regression analysis we cluster standard errors by training session.

The business counseling and training program was also analyzed in Field, Jayachandran and Pande (2010), where we examined di erences between the control and treatment groups irrespective of whether they were invited with a friend. In that paper, we showed that average treatment impacts also varied with the individual's caste and religion, which were linked to social norms on mobility.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Both papers: 636 women
Sample size: planned number of observations
636 women
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
2010 paper:
Treatment group (received training): 424 women
Control group (did not receive training): 212 women

2015 paper:
Treatment group 1 (invited to participate training alone): 217 women
Treatment group 2 (invited to participate training with a friend): 207 women
Control group (not invited to participate training): 212 women
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
April 30, 2007, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
December 31, 2010, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
2010 paper: 597 women
2015 paper: 604 women
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
2010 paper: 597 women
2015 paper: 604 women
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
2010 paper: Treatment group (received training): Control group (did not receive training): 2015 paper: Treatment group 1 (invited to participate training alone): Treatment group 2 (invited to participate training with a friend): Control group (not invited to participate training):
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

This paper explores how traditional religious and caste institutions in India that impose restrictions on women's behavior influence their business activity. Our analysis makes use of a field experiment in which a randomly selected sample of poor self-employed women were trained in basic financial literacy and business skills and encouraged to identify concrete financial goals. The sample is relatively homogenous in terms of socio-economic status (e.g., education). However, differences in religion and caste mean that they face very different traditional restrictions on mobility and social interactions. Muslim women face the most restrictions. Among Hindu women, upper castes face significantly more restrictions than scheduled castes, the lowest group in the caste hierarchy.
Field, Erica, Seema Jayachandran, and Rohini Pande. 2010. "Do Traditional Institutions Constrain Female Entrepreneurship? A Field Experiment on Business Training in India." American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings 100(2):1-5.
Does lack of peers contribute to the observed gender gap in entrepreneurial success, and is the constraint stronger for women facing more restrictive social norms? A random sample of customers of India's largest women's bank was offered two days of business counseling, and a random subsample was invited to attend with a friend. The intervention had a significant immediate impact on participants' business activity, but only if they were trained in the presence of a friend. Four months later, those trained with a friend were more likely to have taken out business loans, were less likely to be housewives, and reported increased business activity and higher household income. The positive impacts of training with a friend were stronger among women from religious or caste groups with social norms that restrict female mobility.
Field, Erica, Seema Jayachandran, Rohini Pande, and Natalia Rigol. “Friends at Work: Can Peer Support Stimulate Female Entrepreneurship?” Working Paper, March 2015.

Reports & Other Materials