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An Evidence-based Report Series on Women’s Economic Empowerment
CGD’s research on an innovative pilot study providing mobile savings tools and business skills training to women entrepreneurs in two countries: Indonesia and Tanzania
Women face obstacles related to their gender that impair their economic performance. Despite this, evidence shows that women, compared to men, have a clear preference for savings. Mobile savings especially hold great promise for empowering women entrepreneurs by addressing their knowledge, mobility, time, and safety constraints. CGD’s innovative pilot study tests the impact of mobile savings and business training on the growth of women’s businesses and their income in Indonesia and Tanzania. The intervention promotes uptake of mobile financial services by increasing both the supply of services (through incentivizing bank agents to enroll more women in Indonesia) and the demand for services (through providing training to women entrepreneurs on the benefits of mobile savings in Indonesia and Tanzania).
The Report Series presents summary findings and policy implications of the rigorous research which feeds into She Counts, a global platform created in partnership with Women’s World Banking and the ExxonMobil Foundation, that promotes the power of putting asset-building tools and resources in the hands of women business owners.
This is the report of a midline evaluation of a randomized controlled trial to increase the utilization of saving and other financial services by women business owners in Indonesia. The trial was motivated by a recent law in Indonesia supporting the development of branchless banking services for a large unbanked rural population and by the results of several studies suggesting that it is possible to stimulate savings and improve a range of downstream outcomes with suitable interventions targeted to under-banked rural populations.
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.
CGD commissioned additional research to analyze the context, methodology and results of the pilot study on mobile savings for women entrepreneurs. The following papers provide in-depth studies of existing literature on savings and the results across various stages of the pilot’s progress. More papers will be added as the project progresses.
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.