Africa Gender Innovation Lab

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The Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) conducts impact evaluations of development interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa, seeking to generate evidence on how to close the gender gap in earnings, productivity, assets and agency. The GIL team is currently working on over 50 impact evaluations in 21 countries with the aim of building an evidence base with lessons for the region.

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  • Publication
    From Collateral to Cashflow: Expanding Access to Finance for Nigeria’s Female Business Owners
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-04-15) Gruver, Ariel; Koroknay-Palicz, Tricia; Papineni, Sreelakshmi; Shaikh, Sarmad; Zottel, Siegfried
    Women in Nigeria are starting and growing businesses at a remarkable rate offering a vast untapped market for business lending. The World Bank, through its Nigeria Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), partnered with the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) and two commercial banks in Nigeria – Access Bank and Sterling Bank – to develop innovative credit solutions that expand access to finance for women entrepreneurs. This case study summarizes key lessons from this work, including an initial diagnostic; an assessment of demand for business loans; analysis of SMEs who applied to and/or received Access Bank cashflow loans; and administrative data from Access Bank’s cashflow loan program. Our objective is to provide insights into the successes and challenges of disbursing loans to women-led SMEs (WSMEs) in Nigeria. This research is being conducted in partnership with the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab (GIL), which is also carrying out an impact evaluation that will capture how cashflow-based lending impacts male- vs female-led firms’ access to credit and business performance.
  • Publication
    Enterprising Women: A Decade of Learning from Ethiopia’s Women Entrepreneurship Development Project (WEDP)
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-04-03) Buehren, Niklas; Papineni, Sreelakshmi; Rawlins, Marlon; Weis, Toni
    Beginning in 2012, Ethiopia’s first ever women-entrepreneur focused line of credit was established through the Women Entrepreneurship Development Project (WEDP). WEDP provides finance and business training for growth-oriented urban women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia with an aim to boost business earnings and employment. Over the ten years since inception, WEDP has expanded to operate across 18 Ethiopian cities, registering 60,000 women entrepreneurs into the program. As of February 2024, WEDP has provided more than 25,000 loans, and business training to over 30,000 women entrepreneurs. WEDP has also contributed to a wealth of learning and innovation, including research in partnership with the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab (GIL), and the Innovations in Financing Women Entrepreneurs (IFWE) project supported by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). In this brief the authors highlight key results from impact evaluations that were embedded into the WEDP operation and provide details of some of the innovations being tested.
  • Publication
    Schoolgirls Not Brides: Secondary Education as a Shield Against Child Marriage
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-02-12) Giacobino, Hélène; Huillery, Elise; Michel, Bastien; Sage, Mathilde
    Child marriage is recognized as a major burden in low-income countries, with severe consequences on women’s life trajectories. It is particularly pervasive in Niger, where middle school enrollment for girls is low, and dropouts are high. In the context of a multi-sectoral World Bank project, researchers evaluated the impact of a three-year intervention eliminating the financial and logistical barriers for girls admitted to middle school. Offering adolescent girls from vulnerable households in rural Niger scholarships and tutoring upon admission to middle school improved educational outcomes and wellbeing. Girls that received the program were 53 percent less likely to have dropped out of school at the time of follow up. They also reported a higher degree of life satisfaction. Importantly, there is no evidence that the positive effects on beneficiaries have been at the expense of non-beneficiaries. The program was effective in postponing girls’ marriage or engagement. Girls who received a scholarship program were 49 percent less likely to be married in the summer following their third year of middle school and 30 percent less likely to be engaged. The intervention raised girls’ educational and professional aspirations for themselves as well as parents’ aspirations for their daughter, plausibly due to changes in girls’ human capital and preferences. These results suggest that the intervention’s effects are likely to last beyond the mere duration of the scholarship.
  • Publication
    Designing and Implementing Low-Cost Childcare Solutions: Lessons from the Africa Gender Innovation Lab
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-30) Cassidy, Rachel; Zighed, Roxane; Gokalp, Cansu Birce
    This case study presents lessons learned by the Africa GenderInnovation Lab (GIL) and its partners from pilots of different models of low-cost childcare provision across four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: mobile crèches in Burkina Faso and Cameroon, fixed-location crèches in Ethiopia, and community-based childcare centers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We also share findings from qualitative research conducted to inform the design of a new community-based childcare pilot in Cameroon. This case study does not intend to prescribe best practices, but instead to provide examples of the key questions, challenges and solutions encountered by project teams.
  • Publication
    Breaking the Cycle of Intimate-partner Violence: Harm Reduction by Engaging Men in the Democratic Republic of Congo
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-28) Gurbuz Cuneo, Alev; Falb, Kathryn; Kabeya, Rocky; Koussoubé, Estelle; Pierotti, Rachael S.; Vaillant, Julia
    Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a global problem and a widespread issue in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where nationally more than one third of women have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence in the past year (2013-2014 DHS). The Africa Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) tested the effectiveness of the Engaging Men through Accountable Practice (EMAP) program, a male-only discussion group intervention which aimed at preventing intimate partner violence (IPV) and promoting more egalitarian gender relations. EMAP was implemented by the International Rescue Committee (IRC). New analyses of the study data paint a nuanced picture of the impact of the intervention. The authors find that among men who were the most physically violent at baseline, the EMAP program was effective at reducing the probability and severity of IPV perpetration. Although zero violence is a necessary and critical goal when promoting gender equality, these results reinforce the importance of measuring the contribution of policies and programs to reduce IPV’s occurrence, in addition to measuring effects on primary prevention and cessation of violence.
  • Publication
    Supporting Youth Employment through Cash Grants for Entrepreneurship: Findings from a Qualitative Study of the Perspectives and Experiences of Cash Grant Recipients under the Benin Youth Employment Project
    (Washington, DC, 2023-10-25) World Bank
    Benin’s labor market is characterized by a high participation rate, but extensive informality and underemployment. Underemployment is even higher among youth and rural women. The labor market is also extremely segregated by gender. Under the Benin Youth Employment Project(PEJ), closed in June 2019, the Government of Benin (GoB) successfully piloted a gender sensitive economic inclusion program. In addition to a comprehensive package of services, the project included services and operational processes to maximize female participation. The PEJ focused on helping youth start or expand their income-generating activities by delivering business and life skills training and cash grants. The life skills modules focused on communication, problem solving, gender and empowerment, aspirations, and initiative. An impact evaluation of PEJ, conducted by the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab (GIL), was designed to measure the impact of these components alone and in combination. One group of participants received both interventions, one group only the training, one group only the cash grant, and a control group received neither. The ambition was to evaluate the relative impacts of relaxing the financial capital constraint, the human capital constraint, and both simultaneously. The purpose of the study was to investigate the mechanisms of impact of the cash grants by gathering grant recipients’ perspectives on the support they received. The research questions and methodology are described in this report.
  • Publication
    Engaging Men for Women’s Economic Empowerment: Overview of the Evidence
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-10-02) Pierotti, Rachael; Delavallade, Clara; Kaur Brar, Rajdev
    Promoting women’s socioeconomic empowerment means increasing women’s control over the resources and decisions that are important for their well-being. Achieving these goals requires engaging men, since men often have influence over the lives of women in t heir households and communities. This overview examines evidence on the effectiveness of three different types of approaches that have been tested: Adding an engaging men intervention to complement a program designed to support women’s individual economic activities: Studies of these interventions show mixed results. Some have had success while others highlight the risk that this type of intervention could reduce women’s autonomy; Complementing support for household production or consumption with programming that encourages cooperative management or joint planning: These types of interventions are promising, especially for increasing women’s role in the management of household resources, although they have had limited impact on women’s individual-level economic outcomes; and Encouraging men to recognize or enhance their wives’ rights to ownership of important assets: There is very limited research available on this category of intervention, although available evidence is promising. Additional research in other contexts is necessary.
  • Publication
    Gender Gaps in Agriculture Productivity and Public Spending in Nigeria
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-09-25) World Bank
    Women farmers produce 30 percent less per hectare than their male counterparts. Among various factors, there are three key drivers of gender gaps in agriculture productivity in Nigeria: women use fewer inputs and have limited participation in extension services, farm less-valuable crops, and hire less productive labor. The four value chains receiving the largest budget allocations are among those with the lowest participation of women farmers. These gaps can be closed via adjustments at fundamental stages of budget allocation and policy formulation. This technical note aims to analyze the gender dimensions of participation, input distribution, and budget allocation across various crop value chains supported by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD). Specifically, the underlying analysis aims to (i) examine women’s participation in the crop value chains for which FMARD provides input support; (ii) quantify the gender gaps in agricultural input use, extension services, and labor productivity; (iii) examine women’s participation and inputs use against budget allocations; and (iv) thereby, formulate recommendations for increasing fiscal space and investments to close the agricultural gender productivity gaps in Nigeria.
  • Publication
    Phone-Based Financial Heuristics Training for Female Retailers in Ethiopia
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-09-01) Abebe, Girum; Asheber, Tsedey; Hailemicheal, Adiam Hagos; Weis, Toni
    A recent review of evidence on the impacts of business training indicates the need to develop alternatives to formal classroom training, simpler rules-of-thumb-type trainings for less sophisticated firms, and business trainings that can be scaled up affordably. In partnership with ideas42, the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) piloted a heuristics (rules-of-thumb)-based business training in Ethiopia that delivers easy-to-remember and -implement financial and business practices. The training was designed for small-scale female retailers and is delivered by phone using prerecorded messages and interactive voice response technology. A key motivation was to make the program accessible to women who are busy tending their families and shops, and who may have limited ability to attend classroom-based trainings.
  • Publication
    The Effects of Childcare on Women and Children: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Burkina Faso
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-08-01) Ajayi, Kehinde F.; Dao, Aziz; Koussoube, Estelle
    In a randomized evaluation conducted in Burkina Faso, the authors examine whether the provision of affordable childcare services improves both early childhood development and women’s economic empowerment. The authors find robust improvement in child development indicators and suggestive evidence that women’s employment, financial outcomes, and psychosocial well-being improved with access to community based childcare centers. Providing affordable, quality childcare services is a cost-effective intervention that yields high social gains. The childcare centers were self-sufficient, essentially paying for themselves. There are also additional unaccounted social benefits from children’s improved development, which can reduce poverty and improve key socio-economic life outcomes. The findings showcase promising new evidence that the provision of childcare can positively impact both women and children. However, there is still more room for change to influence women’s decision-making agency and partners’ involvement in domestic tasks. The findings also demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of the intervention. The childcare centers were not only self-sufficient because they essentially paid for themselves, but also contributed to higher revenue for women who used the childcare centers and the women who were employed as caregivers at the sites.