Savings can help businesses expand, by enabling them to finance lumpy investments and absorb unexpected shocks. However, several barriers stand in the way of women firm owners in developing countries who want to increase their savings.
Women own more than half of all micro, small, and medium enterprises in Indonesia. But of the estimated 22–33 million businesswomen in the country, most operate informal unregistered microenterprises, with significantly fewer assets and profits than men’s.
Unequal Ventures: Results from a Baseline Study of Gender and Entrepreneurship in East Java, Indonesia
A study of women and men business owners in East Java offers a unique opportunity to analyze characteristics of entrepreneurs and their businesses by gender for a country where such systematic data are scarce. The study is one of two randomized controlled trials launched in 2015 to assess the power of mobile savings and training for women entrepreneurs. This report details baseline results from the Indonesia trial, still under way, which is testing whether providing financial literacy training for women who are potential bank clients and varying financial incentives to bank agents promoting a new mobile savings product make a difference in increasing entrepreneurs’ uptake of formal savings and in improving economic outcomes. Short-term results of the other trial, in Tanzania, were reported in the first report in this series.
Women own a large and growing proportion of businesses in Indonesia, estimated at over half of all micro, small, and medium enterprises. However, women’s economic outcomes are not equal to those of men.
Mobile savings hold great promise for empowering women entrepreneurs. Women are often disproportionately burdened by high transaction costs to access savings accounts.
Mobile savings hold great promise, because they can considerably reduce transaction costs that can be unduly heavy for women. Two questions guide us: how can we encourage more women microentrepreneurs to access formal savings accounts, and is mobile saving a particularly fitting solution? This series uses empirical evidence to address these issues.