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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

4.4 Benefits and constraints

The benefits to these women from the training are clear. It provided them with some basic business skills, with all but one putting at least one skill into practice. It also provided them with the self-confidence to move into new areas and to take risks. As a consequence of using these new skills, one woman had been able to increase her income dramatically (ten times at one stage) and four others to have a reasonable increase. It was likely that a sixth woman (Meriem) would have started making a good income if she had not fallen ill. Even maintaining a steady income was an achievement during the latter period of research, because inflation, the post-festival slump and increased competition and market saturation made it ever more difficult to survive.

Among the Group 2 women, a similar impact was reported. However, the experience of this group, who were trained earlier, is indicative of the problem of sustainability, both in terms of sustaining growth, and continuing to apply new skills which are important for that growth. Of this group of ten, only six remained in business (one had passed it on to her sister) and of these, only three were relatively successful.

However, one can argue that the lack of sustainable success had more to do with the adverse market conditions than to the training per se. Indeed, without the training the women may well have been worse off. However, it is interesting to note that on the whole the Group 1 women, who saw the researcher in some sense as monitoring them, were more successful than the Group 2 women. This suggests that follow-up support and advice is very important is assisting poor women to sustain their incomes.

The women identified some constraints at the very start of the research, during the baseline survey. These were:

· lack of working capital (half the sample saw this as the most important)
· lack of space for running a business (e.g. for a shop)
· lack of knowledge of the market
· lack of time
· market saturation
· lack of childcare facilities
· uncertain markets or circumstances (eg a house built illegally, rented premises)
· lack of a legal marketplace
· lack of shelter when selling (if it rains).

By the time of the first follow-up visit, the women had added:

· lack of rain (which affects the quality and price of grain and fuelwood)

· seasonal variations in income (e.g. in a fasting period those engaged in food production experience reduced incomes)

· relatives (usually female) may have to bear more responsibility for domestic duties and children may be left more on their own

By the time of the second visit, several women said they felt exhausted from the demands of their productive work combined with domestic duties. Working long hours deprived them of seeing their children and socialising with friends and relatives. This highlights the strain on women combining both reproductive and productive roles where other members of the household (particularly men) do not take on a share of the burden. Female relatives usually took on more of the domestic work, but they in turn complained that they were tied to the house. Some men also complained that they were getting less attention from their women who spent very little time at home. Meriem reported that her children missed her and Hiwot wanted to spend more time with her son. Those women who had not experienced an increase in income or who had suffered misfortune (Enanu and Worknesh) experienced some loss of confidence in their business ability and were tempted to be fatalistic.

At the time of the final visit, four women continued to complain about having too much work. Only two women in the group had taken active steps to address this: Zinash had employed two women to help her to bake and deliver the injera and Etsehiwot had stopped making breakfasts because she had too much else to do. The vulnerability of individuals and women in particular working in the informal sector, who have nobody to substitute for them, was exemplified by Meriem who fell ill and had to abandon her activities just as she was beginning to do well in a new business. The seasonal fluctuation in the market, with the post-festival period seeing incomes decline, and the economic depression also affected the women's incomes adversely.

It was not possible to assess the extent to which illiteracy might have been a barrier to ensuring sustainable income increases. Of the three women who were illiterate, Meriem had, according to the researcher, the most business potential but she fell ill and had to abandon her new business. Etaferahu saw little success, but Worknesh picked herself up from her disaster after her horse died and was making a living in a new line of business. However, only two women ever tried seriously to record income and expenditure, so in that respect literacy was not used systematically.