|The Impact of Training on Women's Micro-Enterprise Development - Education Research Paper No. 40 (DFID, 2001, 139 p.)|
|Chapter 8: Findings|
|8.4 Conclusions and recommendations|
38 Although data were gathered on the direct and indirect costs of the training being provided, they were incomplete and could not be broken down sufficiently to allow any cost-benefit analysis to be undertaken; nor was it possible to indicate the relative advantage in terms of costs of running one type of training over another.
This study clearly shows that poor women benefit from training which develops skills and self-confidence that will allow them to work and to survive in the economic arena. For the poorest, credit is not enough. Therefore
1. Donors, training providers and other involved parties need to acknowledge that training which is appropriately designed and delivered can contribute to women's micro-enterprise development and in the longer term to poverty alleviation. Training provision should be built into programmes that start from a thorough analysis of the needs of the identified target group.
2. Donors and training providers need to work towards improving the quality of training to support women's micro-enterprise development. They need to acknowledge that some training is poorly designed, poorly targeted and badly delivered. The lack of thorough evaluation of training for women's micro-enterprise development has resulted in limited knowledge of what works and what does not. The tendency therefore has been for training to be dismissed as ineffective. Yet, this research shows that this is clearly not the case. Achieving the appropriate focus and level for the identified target group, selecting individuals for training who share a sufficiently homogenous set of needs and experiences, organising the training to facilitate practical learning and skills application, and finding competent trainers who are sensitive to the needs of poor women while not patronising them are all challenging tasks. They require greater effort than is currently afforded them.
3. In the light of the above, donors and governments should support more research into effective training in this context and the dissemination of examples of good training practice (all the programmes studied here had elements of good practice). Research should include longitudinal studies with a longer time span than the current one (8-9 months of field work), which follow women over a period of years, and comparative studies to measure the benefits of combined training and credit programmes against credit-only programmes. The Dire Dawa programme in Ethiopia, as it is currently structured, offers an excellent opportunity for such research to be carried out.
4. Donors and training providers should recognise that, even if it is possible to identify key characteristics and examples of 'good practice', what constitutes effective training for any particular group will vary. It cannot be said that formal training is more effective than informal, that business skills are more important than technical skills, that women should or should not be trained alongside men, that a certain period of training is desirable etc. The correct mix of ingredients for any particular group can only be identified by means of a thorough needs analysis which takes the views of the women as the starting point (and those of their male relatives, so as to avoid conflict situations developing).
5. Training for micro-enterprise development needs to be strategic. Firstly, providers need to engage in, and learn from, local/regional market and sub-sectoral analyses before designing programmes. Secondly, training needs to include a gender analysis component, which develops among women an awareness of the barriers that they face as women in operating in the marketplace and helps them develop strategies to overcome these. Both require the involvement of individuals with relevant expertise. This has staffing and cost implications for agencies providing and/or funding training.
6. Donors and training providers need to fund and design interventions that go beyond a short one-off training exposure, as this is unlikely to lift women out of poverty into profitable activities and keep them there. This was one of the clearest messages of the study. All four case studies showed that lack of follow-up, or insufficient follow-up, diminished the impact of the initial training input. Experience from adult education and training programmes of all kinds suggests that adults need continuing inputs and support in their application of new knowledge and skills. It also suggests, as this study confirms, that the most effective learning comes from a combination of training and business experience; the latter cannot be acquired quickly.
7. Training methods need to ensure that women are treated as sources of valid knowledge and that their individual experiences are allowed to contribute to group learning. This can make an important contribution to the empowerment of women.
8. Interventions aimed at improving women's economic and social status also need to take male stakeholders' needs on board. If they impact upon men negatively, they will generate hostility, and if men feel threatened, they are likely to sabotage attempts to bring about change. Men also need to be given gender awareness training - otherwise, they will continue to oppose initiatives to empower women which they see as undermining their own status.
9. Donors and training providers need to have programmes evaluated independently, starting with the participants' experiences of what has been achieved. Without this, lessons will not be learned. At the same time, this evaluation needs to take account of the role of training within the goals of the whole project.
10. Donors and training providers need to ensure that the training of women becomes part of the mainstream discourse on technical and vocational education and training (TVET); by its silence on gender issues and its failure to engage in gender analysis, this discourse suggests that such programmes are for men only. Mixed-sex training and women-only training for informal sector activity need to be developed, funded and promoted as an integral part of TVET.