Alleviating Mobility and Informational Constraints Through Social Networks for Female Microentrepreneurs in Pakistan

In developing countries like Pakistan, with deeply entrenched patriarchal norms, self-employed women face multiple challenges, including unprogressive social norms, lack of mobility, capital, skills, social networks, etc. Hence, women-run businesses are usually informal, small-scale, and operate from home. Governments most commonly offer business training opportunities to help women-led small firms grow. However, evaluations of these training programs show mixed evidence. There are concerns around low take-up and the inability to empirically evaluate which business training component works best to help firms grow. Moreover, there is evidence that selection matters as there are larger effects for more ambitious or high-ability entrepreneurs. Given this context, I aim to explore how offering a training program in networking skills remotely to high-growth female entrepreneurs in Pakistan affects take-up and their entrepreneurial success. In addition, I plan to look at whether access to a social network via access to female-only WhatsApp groups affects women's success and economic agency. Therefore, I propose a multi-arm experiment: offer online training in networking skills to a random sample of female entrepreneurs and provide access to a social network to a random subset of the trainees. Additionally, to explore ways to change unprogressive social norms, I will test whether involving family members in the training process and exposing women to inspirational videos has a differential impact on women's outcomes. At this stage of the project, I am interested in conducting some exploratory research to identify the predictors of growth for women-led small firms.

RFP Cycle:
Winter 2022
  • Sarah Shaukat
  • Project development grant