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Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-01-28) Campos, Francisco ; Goldstein, Markus ; McKenzie, DavidThe rate of informal firms is high in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially for those that are women-owned and in the poorest countries, despite a total of 107 business regulatory reforms recorded by Doing Business across 40 economies in the region. Through an experiment in Malawi, we established an effective and replicable design to offer informal firms support to formalize, costing much less than the typical private sector development intervention. The study shows that one of the primary barriers to registration for women-owned firms is transaction costs. When registration is madevirtually costless, an overwhelming number of women-owned firms (73 percent) choose to register. However, when offered the chance to engage in costless registration for taxes, almost no firms select to pursue this opt ion. Combining business registration with an information session at a bank including the offer of a business bank account leads to an increased use of formal financial services, and results in increases in women owned firms sales and profits of 28 percent and 20 percent respectively. On the other hand, business registration on its own is not as effective in improving access to financial services and does not result in enhanced sales and profits.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-12) Goldstein, Markus ; Westman, Moa ; Torkelsson, AsaIn sub-Saharan Africa women comprise a large proportion of the agricultural labor force, yet they are consistently found to be less productive than male farmers. The gender gap in agricultural productivity-measured by the value of agricultural produce per unit of cultivated land-ranges from 4-25 percent, depending on the country and the crop.1 The World Bank Africa Gender Innovation Lab, UN Women, and the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative jointly produced a report to quantify the cost of the gender gap and the potential gains from closing that gap in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda. This report illustrates why the gender gap matters. Closing the gender gap of 28 percent in Malawi, 16 percent in Tanzania and 13 percent in Uganda could result in gross gains to GDP, along with other positive development outcomes, such as reduced poverty and greater food security. However, it is important to stress that these potential gains do not come without cost. Closing the gender gap will require changing existing or designing new policies, which may require additional resources.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-03) Campos, Francisco ; Goldstein, Markus ; McKenzie, DavidThe global rate of informal firms is high, especially for those that are women-owned and in the poorest countries, despite 149 economies implementing 368 reforms to simplify the registration process in a recent ten-year period. Through an experiment in Malawi, the author established an effective and replicable design to offer informal firms support to formalize, costing much less than the typical private sector development intervention. What works in the short-term is combining business registration with an information session at a bank including the offer of a business bank account. This led to women entrepreneurs increasing usage of bank accounts for business-only purposes, financial record keeping, and access to other financial services including insurance. Informal firms are smaller and less productive than formal ones, and their informal status is often associated with a number of costs, including less access to finance. Although 75 percent of the countries included in the Doing Business project have adopted at least one reform making it easier to register a business since 2004, informality remains very prevalent, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. This may lead many to believe that entrepreneurs are not interested in registering their firms, and that if they could only be convinced to formalize it would lead to great benefits for their business.
Caught in a Productivity Trap: A Distributional Perspective on Gender Differences in Malawian Agriculture(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-09) Kilic, Talip ; Palacios-Lopez, Amparo ; Goldstein, MarkusThe vast majority of households in Malawi are involved in agriculture, and improving agricultural productivity, particularly for women, who tend to attain lower yields than men, could lead to significant poverty reduction and improvements in gender equality. This study asks two main questions: (1) exactly how great are the differences in agricultural productivity between men and women in Malawi? And (2) how much of the gender gap is explained by differences in levels of agricultural inputs vs. differences in returns to these inputs? The author trace the varying constraints faced by farmers at different levels of productivity, as well as at average productivity, a level of analysis that is crucial for designing effective interventions aimed at bridging the gender gap. We find that on average, female-managed plots are 25 percent less productive than plots managed by males. Further, the gender gap widens significantly as agricultural productivity increases. More than 80 percent of the mean gender gap is explained by differences in levels of agricultural inputs, suggesting that addressing market and institutional failures underlying these differences could have direct economic benefits.