|The Impact of Training on Women's Micro-Enterprise Development - Education Research Paper No. 40 (DFID, 2001, 139 p.)|
|Chapter 3: Methodology|
As already outlined in chapter 1, the research strategy adopted was a series of case studies of projects and programmes providing training in technical and/or business skills supported by two large NGOs working in the field of micro-enterprise development, with a particular interest in targeting women. Initially, the members of the UK steering group within Intermediate Technology and ACORD were asked to select three projects each, two of which were to be the main source of data, and the third to provide supplementary data. Intermediate Technology identified India, Sri Lanka and Peru, while ACORD identified Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan. However, it proved possible to only complete the research on four projects. Government restrictions on NGO activity in Eritrea meant that this case study had to be dropped and field work was disrupted in Sri Lanka after the initial round of interviewing because of lack of security in the research location. The findings therefore emerge from the remaining four case studies (Ethiopia, India, Peru and Sudan). Some data from the later stage of the field work in Sudan were also missing.
Local researchers were recruited by the relevant member of the UK steering group and the person appointed as research supervisor for the study in each of the countries (usually the Intermediate Technology/ACORD officer responsible for training). The research supervisor, together with field officers who were familiar with their female clients, was responsible for selecting the women to take part in the study.
The sample in each country was to consist of two groups, ideally ten in each. 9 These would be women who were about to undergo training and who constituted the focus of the study (Group 1) and those who had already received training, preferably at least six months prior to the start of the field work (Group 2).10 The first group was to be studied intensively and interviewed at regular interviews during the field work period, the second group less so. They were interviewed only at the start and at the end of the field work. Their inclusion in the study was intended to allow us to study the impact of the training over a longer period and establish the extent to which they were continuing to use the skills acquired during their earlier training. The Peru sample also included five men, as providing a comparison to the women in terms of how they made use of the skills acquired. However, it was decided at the research design stage that neither the budget nor the primary goal of the study would allow us to engage in a rigorous comparison of men's and women's micro-enterprises. This does not however preclude the relevance of such a study being carried out, and indeed the Peru comparative data was illuminating.
9 In the event, of the ten women in the Group 1 India sample one left the project soon after being trained and did not return until the last phase of the field work. In the Group 2 Sudan sample, there were only eight women.
10 In the Ethiopian case, the earlier training had taken place six months before the field work started, in the Indian case one year earlier, in the Sudan and Peru studies three to four years previously.
Finding even two small groups of ten women fitting the same criteria for inclusion in the study was difficult. In the Indian case, the NGO initiative was new and there were only ten women available for each group. In Peru it was difficult to find courses within the Intermediate Technology programme with a sufficient number of female participants willing to take part in the study (hence two courses were included, one in fruit processing, the other in bread making). In Ethiopia, the women who attended the business skills course had already been selected for training by their community-based organisation because they were defaulting on loan repayments or were not making good use of their loans. In the other case studies, women were identified who were willing to be interviewed and observed, or who looked 'interesting' or 'promising'. For the Group 2 samples, field officers had been told to ensure that a number of women were included who had become successful entrepreneurs as well as some who had failed. In the Ethiopian and Peru samples, the women were mixed in terms of their level of success or failure; however, in Sudan all but one of the eight women in this group had been moderately successful in what they had set out to do. 57 women (73 percent) of the total sample of 78 women were recipients of micro-credit at the time they received training (in some cases other members of the family also had a loan).
It should be noted that some women had received other types of training prior to the start of the study, e.g. in first aid, healthcare, nutrition, literacy and nursery teaching. A few had already attended courses in book-keeping or marketing. The role that prior training might have played in the development of their micro-enterprises was not investigated. Nor was literacy training. However, this latter is an important area to research, as very little is known about the role that literacy plays in such a context.
The requirements of the study, as determined by the research questions, meant not only monitoring the changes over time that occurred in the women's productive and non-productive activities as a result of the application of new skills but also isolating the impact of the training input from that of other inputs, in this case credit. The first requirement was met by the researchers conducting an exhaustive baseline interview with each woman in Group 1 before they received training, followed by a number of visits subsequent to the training (every two to three months) which yielded both interview and observation data on each woman. This also allowed the researcher to build up a detailed profile or diary about each woman. The field work period lasted between eight and nine months in each case, with the training for the Group 1 women usually taking place soon after the baseline survey was conducted. To meet the second requirement, the research team developed a follow-up interview schedule and a Socio-Economic Impact Matrix 11 (Appendix 2), on which the researcher recorded details of changes at each visit along a number of discrete dimensions, namely: activity, time, skills, resources, income and social impact.
11 This is based on the Gender Analysis Matrix designed by Rani Parker (1993) for training development workers.