Gender and returns to entrepreneurship in Africa

Agyire-Tettey, F., Ackah, C.G. and Asuman, D. (2018), “Gender and returns to entrepreneurship in Africa“, International Journal of Economics, Vol. 45 No. 12, pp. 1609- 1630.


The purpose of this paper is to assess determinants of returns to male and female entrepreneurship in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda at selected quantiles along the distribution, as well as examine gender gaps in returns to entrepreneurship and factors contributing these gaps.,Employing a unique data set collected in the three countries on entrepreneurial motivations, constraints and performance, the authors apply unconditional quantile regression technique to assess the determinants of returns to entrepreneurship at various quantiles along the distribution. Additionally, the authors employ decomposition techniques to assess gender gaps in returns to entrepreneurship at various points along the distribution. The data contain extensive information on entrepreneur’s personal characteristics, including parental background and household composition and structure.,The study finds substantial differences in determinants of returns to male and female entrepreneurship along the distribution, with firm asset increasing returns to entrepreneurship. There is also the presence of gender gaps in returns to entrepreneurship at the lower-end of distribution, however, gaps disappear at the upper tail of the distribution, indicative of sticky floors in returns to entrepreneurship in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. The authors also find gender bias against female entrepreneurship in the three countries, as unobserved characteristics largely responsible for the gender gaps in entrepreneurial returns.,This work has been undertaken by the authors and has not been carried out by any other person. The study will add to the existing literature on gender and returns to entrepreneurship.

Household Matters: Revisiting the Returns to Capital among Female Microentrepreneurs

Bernhardt, Arielle, Erica Field, Rohini Pande, and Natalia Rigol. (2019) “Household Matters: Revisiting the Returns to Capital among Female Microentrepreneurs.” American Economic Review: Insights, 1 (2): 141-60.


Multiple field experiments report positive financial returns to capital shocks for male and not female microentrepreneurs. But these analyses overlook the fact that female entrepreneurs often reside with male entrepreneurs. Using data from experiments in India, Sri Lanka, and Ghana, we show that the observed gender gap in microenterprise responses does not reflect lower returns on investment, when measured at the household level. Instead, the absence of a profit response among female-run enterprises reflects the fact that women’s capital is typically invested into their husband’s enterprise. We cannot reject equivalence of household-level income gains for male and female capital shock recipients.

Profiting from Parity: Unlocking the Potential of Women’s Business in Africa

WorldBank Group(2019). Profiting from Parity : Unlocking the Potential of Women’s Business in Africa.


Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of entrepreneurship in the world, with approximately 42 percent of the non-agricultural labor force classified as self-employed or employers. Yet most entrepreneurs are unable to grow their businesses beyond small-scale subsistence operations, impeding their contribution to poverty reduction and shared prosperity. This is particularly so for women. This new report, “Profiting from Parity: Unlocking the Potential of Women’s Businesses in Africa”, produced by the World Bank Group’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab and the Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice, seeks to focus attention on the challenges that Africa’s women entrepreneurs face and identify practical solutions. The report draws on new, high-quality, household and firm level data to present the clearest evidence to date about the barriers to growth and profitability faced by women entrepreneurs. It goes beyond looking at contextual, endowment and household restrictions in isolation, and, through deep-dive analysis, uncovers new evidence on how social norms, networks and household-level decision making contribute to business performance. It analyzes how they are linked to each other and to women’s strategic business decisions. The report offers policy makers evidence based guidance on designing programs to target multiple obstacles and improve the performance of women entrepreneurs.

Competing priorities: Women’s microenterprises and household relationships

Sophia Friedson-Ridenour, Rachael S. Pierotti. Competing priorities: Women’s microenterprises and household relationships, World Development Volume 121, 2019, Pages 53-62.


Recent studies have suggested that women’s business decisions are influenced by members of their household, especially their spouse, and that these intrahousehold dynamics contribute to gender gaps in entrepreneurship outcomes. This in-depth qualitative study among micro-entrepreneurs in urban Ghana sought to understand the connections between women’s businesses and their households’ management of economic resources. The findings show that women’s business decisions are influenced by: 1) a desire to reinforce their partner’s responsibilities as a primary provider; 2) attempts to fulfil normative expectations of meeting the daily basic-needs of the family; and 3) a need to prepare for long-term security. To reinforce their husband’s responsibilities as a provider, women hid income and savings, and sometimes explicitly limited business growth. To ensure their ability to smooth household consumption and respond to emergencies, women prioritized savings over business investment. And, to plan for their long-term security, women opted for cautious business investment, instead maintaining pressure on their partner to meet current needs and investing in children and property for the future. Previous studies document gender differences in microenterprise business management. This research builds on those studies by examining how intrahousehold inequalities affect women’s business decisions. The findings demonstrate the contextual importance of social relations for understanding women’s business decisions. More broadly, the findings illustrate that interpersonal interactions concerning the management of economic resources are an integral part of how household members negotiate their rights and responsibilities in relation to each other.