This project evaluates the effectiveness of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial training in empowering rural women in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.
Women’s equality and empowerment is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but also integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development. The social and structural hindrances faced by women limit their economic participation, denying the communities from enjoying greater inclusive socioeconomic growth. Globally, there are 4.4 million more women than men living in poverty due to unequal access to and control over economic resources, leading to the persistence of gender inequalities in the labour market in terms of occupational segregation and gender pay gaps (United Nation Women, 2018). Entrepreneurship is known to be a key mechanism to redress this inequality and the associated impediments to inclusive and sustainable development.
The lack of entrepreneurial skills has been identified as one of the main obstacles for potential entrepreneurs and often access to training on such skill is difficult in the rural areas. Although business training programs for micro-entrepreneurs have been implemented in many countries but we know little about its effectiveness. A business entrepreneurship training program is being developed and tailored towards the rural communities and the effectiveness of this program is being measured. In this project, we also examine whether and how social norms, exposure to natural disaster and domestic violence influences women’s decision to initiate a new business, and how this decision is affected by their spouse, and their access to financing. These findings have important implications for entrepreneurship research, microfinance practitioners, and policymakers working toward women’s empowerment. In addition, the findings would help policy makers to adopt a more inclusive approach in their policy formulation on disaster risk management. Building on the findings through surveys, interviews and field experiments, domestic and regional policy development and coordination could better address gender-specific entrepreneurship needs in creating an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship.