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Business Training, Soft Skills, Women’s Economic Empowerment and IPV among Female Microentrepreneurs
Initial registration date
June 26, 2020
June 29, 2020 11:18 AM EDT
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Inter-American Development Bank
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Inter-American Development Bank
Additional Trial Information
Globally, gender-related barriers to economic growth persist. Social norms and family roles traditionally attached to women undermine their labor force participation and income generating capacity. This study tries to identify strategies to economically empower women in developing countries with high levels of self-employment. Previous studies assumed that knowledge constraints limit the growth of female-led businesses and have thus focused on providing hard-skills training for the entrepreneurial activity with very limited success. Recognizing that not all women enter the entrepreneurial activity due to the same intrinsic reasons, we explore the effect of training programs that foster the development of women's hard and soft skills both for the entrepreneurial activity and the insertion/reinsertion into the labor market. We evaluate three alternative programs delivering: (i) hard skills to better run a business (ii) hard and soft skills business training and (iii) soft skills to enter the labor market.
Duryea, Suzanne, Veronica Frisancho and Martin Valdivia. 2020. "Business Training, Soft Skills, Women’s Economic Empowerment and IPV among Female Microentrepreneurs." AEA RCT Registry. June 29.
This study relies on an experimental impact evaluation that will improve our understanding of how to best contribute to women’s economic empowerment and income generating ability in the region. Since not all women enter the entrepreneurial activity due to the same intrinsic reasons, we explore alternatives that foster the development and/or strengthening of women’s capabilities and skills expected to increase their earnings. We measure the impact of the provision of (i) a traditional hard skills business training program and compare it to the impact of two other programs providing training in (ii) hard and soft skills for the entrepreneurial activity and (iii) soft skills to promote insertion/reinsertion into the labor market. All three training programs are delivered though bimonthly group sessions over the course of 12 months.
The target population are female entrepreneurs who are clients of a well established microfinance institution, Financiera Confianza. We focus on clients who receive credit through the program Palabra de Mujer (PDM), which focuses on women’s economic empowerment through access to group credit and with regular training sessions on financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
The costs of the implementation of the pilot are, for now, shouldered by the funds obtained by the researchers. Consequently, the training is delivered by external facilitators hired by the team. However, Financiera Confianza is interested in scaling up proven successful strategies and incorporating the training modules into its regular services. The development of the training materials was done by the Inter-American development Bank (IDB), in collaboration with GRADE and the International Youth Foundation (IYF). IYF’s Passport to Success Program provided the curriculum on soft skills.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
women’s economic empowerment as measured by a wealth of outcomes including occupational choices, labor income, time use, business practices, business outcomes, among others. Another important outcome is intimate partner violence (IPV).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Soft skills, business knowledge and practices
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
The experimental design consists of 4 arms: (i) a control group, which continues with the current training provided under the program; (ii) Treatment 1, which receives a typical curriculum on hard skills to run a business; (iii) Treatment 2, which receives training in hard as well as soft skills for the entrepreneurial activity; and (iv) Treatment 3, which receives training in soft skills that promote employability. All three training programs are delivered though bimonthly group sessions over the course of 12 months. Randomization of the treatment was conducted at the group level.
Experimental Design Details
We randomized the treatments in office by a computer.
Credit group as determined by Financiera Confianza
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number