Comparing the Impact of Micro-loans, Mobile Phones, and Business Training on Micro-Enterprises Owned by Women in India
Micro-enterprises are the most common types of business in the developing world. In India, recent figures from the National Sample Survey Organization (2012) suggest that there are approximately 1.5 billion micro-enterprises, many of them owned by women and home-based. Findings from IDRC-supported studies on female micro-entrepreneurs in Mumbai and Chennai suggest a correlation between economic growth and the adoption of mobile phones. When they are able to use mobile communications, many of these women-owned micro-enterprises increase their revenues and hire additional workers. The findings also suggest that successful female micro-entrepreneurs enjoy increased levels of self-efficiency, social respect, and power within their families. Still, little is known about how best to use mobile phones with other common entrepreneurial tools, such as micro-loans and training. This project will assess the impact of three common interventions (microloans, entrepreneurial training, and mobile phones) on the economic growth of micro-enterprises and on the social development of the women who own them. This study aims to determine how efficient the interventions are-either individually or in combination-as a means to increase female micro-entrepreneur participation in developing economies. Researchers will carry out fieldwork in Coimbatore, India. A total of 320 women micro-enterprise owners will be assigned to one of three experimental groups or a control group. Researchers will collect pretest data about the participants and their micro-enterprises from all groups. Three main experiment stimuli will be introduced over a two-year period: data-enabled phones, business training, and microloans. Researchers will collect additional data one year after the first stimuli have been applied, followed by post-test data collection one year after the second round of stimuli. To generate rich descriptions of how household dynamics affect the perceptions and behaviours of women micro-enterprises, the research team will conduct qualitative interviews with three important persons (e.g., husbands, mothers-in-law) in the households of 20-30 female micro-entrepreneurs. The project intends to explain four new constructs (growth orientation, risk attitudes, perceived empowerment, and mattering or feeling important in the family dynamic) and determine their value in development studies. The research team will select and train participants in partnership with a local NGO, development agencies, and public training institutions. The findings will be useful in helping policymakers and practitioners prioritize future policies and interventions.