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close this bookThe Impact of Training on Women's Micro-Enterprise Development - Education Research Paper No. 40 (DFID, 2001, 139 p.)
close this folderChapter 4: The Dire Dawa Urban Development Programme (Ethiopia)12
View the document(introduction...)
View the document4.1 Background
Open this folder and view contents4.2 The training
Open this folder and view contents4.3 The women and the impact of the training on their lives
View the document4.4 Benefits and constraints
View the document4.5 Conclusions

4.5 Conclusions

There was no doubt that the training enhanced the entrepreneurship knowledge and skills of the trainees and changed their attitude and approach towards running their own micro-enterprises, and in that respect it met its main objectives. Most of the women were seen to exercise one or more of the skills learnt on the course, with market research being the most commonly used. They all changed their attitude towards their productive work and towards themselves; as a result, their management of their productive work improved in eight out of ten cases in Group 1, and five women experienced sustained income increases. The attitude of their families and the community also showed a positive change.

Although at the end of the field work period, the financial gains for the women were not great and in some cases their incomes had dropped compared to a few months before, it is likely that the training had provided them with skills which would allow them to survive better in depressed markets than other women who had not had the training. In particular, they had learnt to be flexible and to respond to new opportunities and seasonal variations in the market, e.g. fasting periods. The majority of the women studied showed considerable entrepreneurial orientation. Interestingly, though, the greatest potential and gains were shown by those women, all relatively young, who did not face interference and restrictions from male relatives and who, as the sole income earner, were highly motivated because of the need to survive. Of the four most successful, Zinash (aged 35), Tsehay (aged 35), Etsehiwot (aged 22) and Hiwot (aged 23), only Hiwot was married and it was significant that by the end of the research period, her husband had taken over almost full control of the canteen. Of the other five married women, only Meriem (aged 27) showed considerable potential. The others did not do well. Yet, in three cases, male members of the household gave more active support than before the training. Conversely, of the unmarried women, Tsegerada (aged 30) did badly.

The training was able to build on the women's existing small business experiences by focusing on practical issues relating to their economic activities and making use of the immediate context in which the women found themselves. For example, Zinash said that she had used market survey beforehand to find out what was in short supply in the neighbourhood, but she had not been sure that she was doing it correctly. The training had confirmed and consolidated her existing knowledge. This poses the question whether it is more effective to provide training to those already operating in the market, as in this case, or to those who have no experience of it as in the Indian case. At the same time, the training addressed not only women's practical needs (earning a living), but also their strategic needs in that some of the training looked to provide them with confidence to see themselves as potential business women able to compete with men. However, it did not facilitate their move into new (male) areas of business.

As for the training experience itself, the training hall was empowering to the women as it was located in a government office and this was the first time that most of them had been in such premises. They appeared to appreciate the formal setting and some told the researcher that they preferred training there to training close to their home or business. For those who were illiterate, it was their first experience of a formal educational setting.

However, the training methodology was somewhat inappropriate for those who were illiterate because at times the participants had to read from the blackboard and to copy (one criterion for participation was in fact literacy but this was obviously not strictly observed). The inability to calculate income and expenditure on paper was no doubt also a disadvantage to the women in their productive activities; however, as noted, not many of the literate women did this. 15

15 ACORD has conducted a number of surveys to enhance its understanding of the impact of the training it offers. In one such survey, two CBOs were compared, one successful and the other facing difficulties. Both CBOs had received a wide range of training inputs. One of the main conclusions drawn was that the impact of training is determined above all else by internal group dynamics, such as the level of cohesion and trust between members, the existence of a team spirit and the degree of homogeneity in terms of age, sex, educational and social background, economic status etc. It also found that level of literacy was a factor in influencing ability to transmit lessons learnt to the group. Women's CBOs are clearly at a disadvantage here but this may be offset by the high level of cohesion within female CBOs. This conclusion is relevant to the group dynamics found in the Indian case study (source: Angela Hadjepateras, ACORD)

The link between increased income and increased status was very strong, with the women feeling that they earned greater respect from both their families and the community when they began to look like real business women. The link between increased income and access and control of resources also appeared to be quite strong, with the women controlling their own financial affairs (aided to a certain extent by a culture which did not usually expect men to be involved in work assigned to women). The case of Hiwot was an exception here, with the husband taking control of the canteen's finances. This would support evidence from elsewhere that when women's income increases are small, they continue to exercise the same level of control over it; but when significant gains are made, men start to take over. However, the link between increased income and increased household decision-making was much less clear; although the men were usually very appreciative of what the women were doing, and in some cases were actively involved in the business, there did not appear to be any great shift in power and authority within the household. (In the Indian case there was no change at all, in Sudan and Peru very little).

The link between training and credit was also clearcut in this study: the women would not have been able to apply the newly acquired skills without having the credit to put into a new or an expanding business. Likewise, the data showed clearly that in all the cases where there was an increase in income, this was the result of the application of new skills.

As already noted, the effectiveness of the training depended on many factors beyond the women's or the household's control. These included access to sufficient credit (all these women held loans from their CBOs but they were very small), stability and size of the market, existing employment opportunities, government policy on small businesses, and security of premises from which to conduct business (e.g. Tsehay was worried that if she was too successful the owners of the two canteens which she rented would either increase the rent or take them back to run themselves). The economic situation in Dire Dawa was not good in the latter stages of the research, as documented above, and this had a negative impact on the women's already low and unstable incomes.

As the researcher noted, the market tapped by the women was prone to saturation:

Poor women with limited skills and opportunities enter into a business which in most cases is an extension of their domestic work. These are related to the sale of cooked foods, drinks and small shop items. As most of the women engage in these activities, it creates market saturation.

She observed that the women's micro-enterprise culture of Dire Dawa is one in which one woman copies what her neighbour is doing. The purchasing power of people in peri-urban and shanty town areas is weak and this affects the viability and potential profitability of small businesses. Many of the women were engaging in illegal practices, selling by the roadside, brewing alcohol without a licence, operating businesses with over 5000 birr capital without formal registration, building houses illegally and being involved in the black market in chat. Such practices make them susceptible to prosecution, fines and the confiscation of their goods, and, in the case of illegal dwellings, demolition. The training provided under this programme was, when combined with credit, effective in providing a significant number of women with slightly improved livelihoods and an element of empowerment but it did not raise them out of poverty.