Gender specifics in entrepreneurs social capital: Implications for firm performance

Neneh BN, PhD. “Gender specifics in entrepreneurs social capital: Implications for firm performance,” Gender & Behaviour. 2017;15(1):8462-8478.


Using a sample of 315 respondents from the Mangaung metropolitan municipality in South Africa, this study sought out to examine the existence of gender differences in social capital using two popular operationalisations of social capital. The study also examined how the different types of social capital influenced the performance of men-owned and women-owned businesses. The results showed significant gender differences in social capital with men having a higher level of structural, relational and linking social capital, while women had a higher level of bonding social capital. Furthermore, it was observed that structural and bonding social capital had a consistent influence on firm performance across gender. However, relational and bridging social capital was only associated with performance for men-owned businesses, while cognitive social capital was only significantly associated with the performance of women-owned businesses.

The Profits of Wisdom : The Impacts of a Business Support Program in Tanzania

“Bardasi, Elena; Gassier, Marine; Goldstein, Markus; Holla, Alaka. 2017. The Profits of Wisdom : The Impacts of a Business Support Program in TanzaniaPolicy Research Working Paper;No. 8279. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank.


Business training programs in low-income settings have shown limited, if any, impacts on firm revenues and prof- its, particularly for female entrepreneurs. This paper uses a randomized design to compare the impacts of two types of business training programs targeting women with estab- lished small businesses in urban Tanzania. The basic version of the training relied on in- class sessions to strengthen the managerial and technical skills of the participants. In the enhanced version, training was supplemented by individual visits from business coaches to the sites of participants’ activities, as well as other services tailored to their individual needs. The study finds no impact of the basic training on business practices and business outcomes. Participants in the enhanced training are more likely to adopt new prac- tices, but show no effects for revenue or profits, on average. However, the average masks large heterogeneous effects: entrepreneurs with low levels of experience show reduced revenues; those with more experience benefit from the pro- gram. This finding suggests that business training programs may have greater impacts if they are more carefully targeted.

Supporting Growth-Oriented Women Entrepreneurs: A Review of the Evidence and Key Challenges

Cirera,Xavier; Qasim,Qursum. 2014. Supporting growth-oriented women entrepreneurs : a review of the evidence and key challenges (English). Innovation, technology and entrepreneurship policy note;no. 5 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group. 


In recent years, support programs for women entrepreneurs have gained traction and prominence as a means to create jobs and boost productivity at the national and regional levels. However, disparities in initial resource endowments of male—and female-led firms, sector sorting into low productivity activities, social norms, and institutional arrangements, constrain the growth of female-led enterprises. This note reviews the outcomes of programs supporting female growth entrepreneurs and draws lessons from available evidence to inform the design of more effective programs. The review shows that most programs are primarily geared
toward microenterprises, making it difficult to draw conclusions about program design for growth-oriented entrepreneurs, but some early findings point the way forward. Management practices appear to improve as a result of business education, but there is little robust evidence to prove that support programs lead to significant improvements in business performance outcomes. Furthermore, in programs with both male and female participants, firm performance improves in some cases for male-led firms only, not for female-led firms. The note concludes
by suggesting the need for more experimentation in the design and delivery of services and a new focus on strengthening the engendering of support programs to more specifically address gender-specific constraints such as social norms, entrepreneurial preferences, and institutional arrangements, changing public discourse, and paying more attention to factors that induce

female entrepreneurs to diversify into higher value-added activities. Offering mentoring, networking, and other consulting services,
in addition to education on basic business practices and strengthening critical areas such as gender-specific content, can potentially increase the effectiveness of these programs.

Definitions Matter: Measuring Gender Gaps in Firms’ Access to Credit

Claudia Piras, Andrea F. Presbitero, Roberta Rabellotti,(October 2013) “Definitions Matter: Measuring Gender Gaps in Firms’ Access to Credit.” Money and Finance Research Group, Working Paper number 90.


Standards measures of female ownership and management of firms included in the World Bank Enterprise Survey do not support the existence of a gender gap in access to finance in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Nonetheless, more precise measures show that women-led busi- nesses are more likely to be financially constrained than other comparable firms. The evidence presented herein suggests that this gender gap may be driven by taste-based discrimination. This paper exploits a rich dataset that provides detailed information about female ownership and management in firms, allowing for further understanding of gender gaps in access to finance.

Gender, small firm ownership, and credit access: some insights from India

Chaudhuri, K., Sasidharan, S. & Raj, R.S.N. ” Gender, small firm ownership, and credit access: some insights from India,” Small Bus Econ 54, 1165–1181 (2020)


Using a comprehensive dataset on micro, small, and medium enterprises in India, we examine whether the gender of the owner matters in firm perfor- mance and in credit access from institutional sources. The study finds significant underperformance in the size, growth, and efficiency of firms owned by women when compared to those owned by men. In line with the evidence in the existing literature, our findings also support the view that women-owned firms are disad- vantaged in the market for small-business credit. These findings suggest that addressing gender discrimination in the small-business credit market could help, partly, in bridging the performance gap between male- and female-owned firms.

Business Literacy and Development: Evidence from Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural Mexico

Gabriela Calderon, Jesse M. Cunha, Giacomo De Giorgi. “Business Literacy and Development: Evidence from Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural Mexico” (December 2013). National Bureau of Economics Research, Working Paper Series, number 19740.


A large share of the poor in developing countries run small enterprises, often earning low incomes. This paper explores whether the poor performance of businesses can be explained by a lack of basic business skills. We randomized the offer of a free, 48-hour business skills course to female entrepreneurs in rural Mexico. We find that those assigned to treatment earn higher profits, have larger revenues, serve a greater number of clients, are more likely to use formal accounting techniques, and more likely to be registered with the government. Indirect treatment effects on those entrepreneurs randomized out of the program, yet living in treatment villages, are economically meaningful, yet imprecisely measured. We present a simple model of experience and learning that helps interpret our results, and consistent with the theoretical predictions, we find that “low-quality” entrepreneurs are the most likely to quit their business post-treatment, and that the positive impacts of the treatment are increasing in entrepreneurial quality.

Rule of Law and Female Entrepreneurship

Nava Ashraf,Alexia Delfino, Edward L. Glaeser. “ Rule of Law and Female Entrepreneurship ” (October 2019). National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper Series, number 26366.


Commerce requires trust, but trust is difficult when one group consistently fears expropriation by another. If men have a comparative advantage at violence and there is little rule-of-law, then unequal bargaining power can lead women to segregate into low-return industries and avoid entrepreneurship altogether. In this paper, we present a model of female entrepreneurship and rule of law that predicts that women will only start businesses when they have both formal legal protection and informal bargaining power. The model’s predictions are supported both in cross-national data and with a new census of Zambian manufacturers. In Zambia, female entrepreneurs collaborate less, learn less from fellow entrepreneurs, earn less and segregate into industries with more women, but gender differences are ameliorated when women have access to adjudicating institutions, such as Lusaka’s “Market Chiefs” who are empowered to adjudicate small commercial disputes. We experimentally induce variation in local institutional quality in an adapted trust game, and find that this also reduces the gender gap in trust and economic activity.