Employing and empowering marginalized women

That is the title of a paper I’m presenting tomorrow at Georgetown’s gui2de seminar. Here is the abstract:

We randomly evaluate a post-war program in northern Uganda designed to help poor unemployed women start nonfarm businesses and thus increase their incomes and autonomy. In 60 of 120 villages, the 15 most marginalized villagers (including some men) received five days of business training, $150, and ongoing supervision and advice. We also evaluate the marginal impacts of the supervision component and training to start mutual support groups.

People invested at least a third of the grant, typically in trading. After 18 months business ownership doubled and work hours increased by two-thirds relative to the control group. Women’s earnings increased 98% and men’s by 75%.

Group formation increased in-comes by encouraging cooperative farming and informal finance. Supervision and advice increased business start-up and survival but not profits.

In contrast to an observational literature linking women’s incomes to empowerment, we see little impact on women’s autonomy or bargaining power in the home, although community participation and leadership increase.

Authored with Eric Green, Julian Jamison and Jeanie Annan.

The paper will be posted in a month or two (after I polish it to an absurd sheen) but here you can find a 4-page policy note and gazillion-page policy report.