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
    Making It Easier for Women in Malawi to Formalize Their Firms and Access Financial Services
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-01-28) Campos, Francisco; Goldstein, Markus; McKenzie, David
    The 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
    Gender Gaps at the Enterprise Level: Evidence from South Africa
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2011-09) Campos, Francisco
    Female-owned small to medium businesses in the Western Cape Province in South Africa are less productive, generate lower revenues and have less employees than male-owned enterprises. In this brief, we use the baseline survey for an impact evaluation of a business development services program to identify why these differences exist and explore paths towards policy interventions to overcome them. Author conclude that the concentration of businesses in low performing sectors, the lack of commitment to the business, the intertwining of household and business responsibilities, and access to finance can be important barriers to the growth of women-headed enterprises. Author suggests targeted alternative interventions to address these constraints and recommend comparing their effectiveness through rigorous evaluations. Author argue that the gender differences identified in the performance of Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in this Province of South Africa can be due to a combination of: 1) the concentration of women-entrepreneurs in a small number of low-performing sectors, 2) firms being seen by entrepreneurs as an interim solution, 3) the intertwining of household and enterprise money, and 4) credit constraints.