This series highlights the work of the five Gender Innovation Labs (GILs) that constitute the GIL Federation, a World Bank community of practice coordinated by the World Bank Gender Group. The briefs include key findings from impact evaluations of development interventions in nine areas (education, labor markets, entrepreneurship, agriculture, land titling, care, social protection, gender-based violence, and adolescent girls). They provide evidence and lessons on how to close gender gaps and foster women’s economic empowerment in these areas. They also serve as an analytical foundation for the World Bank Gender Strategy 2024-2030.
Entrepreneurship can be a pathway to employment and economic empowerment for women. Over half of the women in developing countries are or aspire to be entrepreneurs, but most of them run subsistence oriented micro-businesses that are not seen as key drivers of innovation and growth. Among formal firms, the share of women-led businesses decreases as the size of the firm increases. Multiple factors—including lack of skills, networks, and access to finance, technology, and markets—constrain women’s decision to become entrepreneurs and affect their choices concerning which sector to enter, how much to put into their firms, and which business practices and technology to adopt. Contextual factors, such as social norms, access to childcare, and risk of gender-based violence, also contribute to the gender gap in firm performance documented by the Africa GIL3 and the EAP GIL. The GIL Federation is generating rigorous evidence around the world to understand what works, and what does not, in addressing the differential constraints restricting the growth of women-led firms. This note presents evidence on five key findings.