With millions of women around the developing world thrown into self-employment but with low productivity, increasing the profitability of their businesses is highly relevant for poverty reduction and gender equity. This study evaluates the impacts of a BDS programserving female microentrepreneurs in Lima using an experimental design, that included two treatment groups: One received only general training (GT), albeit more time-intense than previous studies, and delivered by experts, while the other received in addition technical assistance (TA). Results show the existence of room for efficiency gains and growth, as all treated showed increased sales revenues and self-reported adoption of recommended business practices. Those that received only GT showed positive but not significant effects early on, but the two treatment groups showed indistinguishable growth, above 15%, two years after the end of the treatment. Low take up of the training may suggest some space to improve recruitment and delivery of treatments
Business results, Sales, Business practices, Participation in business related associations, Business credits, Risk proneness and time discounting, Entrepreneurial attitudes
Firms that received the consulting sessions and the general training register increased adoption of recommended business practices compared to those which only received the training. This effect was particularly significant for larger firms.
Among those that only received the general training, only firms with higher sales volumes increased the adoption of recommended practices in the longer run.
The most common practices adopted were bookkeeping and paying the business owner a fixed salary instead of taking money out of the business depending on household needs and business capacity.
Firms offered any of the support schemes were, on average, more likely to participate in business associations a few months later, but the effect only persisted for those firms offered the consulting complement.
Firms in all support schemes increased their use of formal credit. Credit from informal rotating savings and credit associations only increased for those that received the consulting session, which promoted and supported those associations, but it decreased for those only offered the general training.
Accessing the general business training increased business sales by over 15 per cent two years after the programme, regardless of the consulting complement.
For smaller firms, the effects on sales showed earlier but vanished over time. The effects on larger firms took longer to develop but were higher and more persistent.
The effects on sales showed earlier, from four to seven months after the programme, for those receiving the consulting complement.
None of the schemes affected employment or capital significantly. If anything, employment is slightly reduced and capital slightly increased.
In the short run, firms that received any of the support schemes registered increased in productivity, although these gains had vanished two years after the programme.
Productivity gains only persisted for firms owned by highly educated women and those with higher entrepreneurial traits who received the consulting complement.