Archived Webinar

Women’s Entrepreneurship - Minding the Skills Gap- Does Access to Training help to improve business performance among female-owned enterprises?

Research has shown that micro-enterprises, which often represent a vital source of livelihoods in developing countries, can have a positive impact on women’s economic empowerment. However, women entrepreneurs often lack access to financial and human capital, face a host of additional constraints based on social norms and gender roles, and have different mindsets and approaches to enterprise. These often prevent them from pursuing their ambitions or growing their businesses. This session will first summarize the global literature on business trainings that are designed around women’s constraints in developing countries. Then, the session will feature recent evidence on soft skills training for women, following an influential randomized controlled Trial in Togo which found that a psychology-based training focused on soft skills was more effective than traditional business training at improving outcomes for female-owned business. The session will then present the most recent evidence from an impact evaluation on a large-scale pilot of soft skills training in Mexico. The webinar will discuss how to move forwards in order to scale meaningful business trainings to a vast number of women.

About the Presenters

Diego Ubfal, Economist, World Bank Africa Gender Innovation Lab

Diego Ubfal is an Economist, thematic leader on Entrepreneurship, in the from the University of San Andrés, and a PhD from University of California in Los Angeles. He was Assistant Professor at Bocconi University in Italy, and research affiliate at JPAL, IPA and IZA. Diego has led research projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean and taught courses on Impact Evaluation and Development Economics at Bocconi and Columbia University. World Bank's Africa Region Gender Innovation Lab. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Buenos Aires, a Master's degree

Leonardo Iacovone, Lead Economist, World Bank, Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice

Lead Economist in the Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice at the World Bank. Before joining the WB Leonardo worked as economic advisor in Latin America and Southern Africa for UNDP, WTO, UNIDO, EU, and the Government of Mozambique. Leonardo studied at Bocconi University, University Torquato di Tella, and received a PhD in Economics from University of Sussex. Leonardo is also Adjoint Professor of Economics at Hertie School, a Research Affiliate with IPA SMEs Initiative and Affiliated Researcher with JPAL. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Review of Economic Studies, Economic Journal, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of International Economics, etc.

Ambika Sharma, Analyst, World Bank’s South Asia Gender Innovation Lab

Ambika Sharma is an Analyst who works with the World Bank's South Asia Gender Innovation Lab (SAR GIL). She is passionate about applying research tools in program delivery contexts, to inform design and sharpen implementation on the ground. Ambika works across the South Asia and Africa Gender Innovation Labs on rigorous impact evaluations of large-scale gender focused operations. Prior to joining the World Bank, she worked in India and Botswana designing innovative data collection to inform real-time program development and delivery.

Michael Frese, Full Professor for Management & Entrepreneurship, Asia School of Management

Michael Frese has a joint appointment as professor for organizational behavior at Asia School of Business (in collaboration with MIT Sloan Management) (ASB) in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, and Professor for Psychology and Entrepreneurship at Leuphana, University of Lueneburg, Germany. His research is on the psychology of entrepreneurship, innovation, training of entrepreneurs, personal initiative and proactivity, and learning from errors and experience; using action theory as a meta-theory. His aim is to study psychology’s contribution to poverty reduction. He was (co-)editor of Applied Psychology: An International Review, Journal of Business Venturing and Psychologische Rundschau. He published more than 400 articles and edited or co-authored ca 30 books and special issues. His current h-index 111 with 61,000 citations (i10 index=271) ( A major field experimental study showed that the training he developed (personal initiative training) is highly effective and a better training than a traditional business training for micro-entrepreneurs in Africa (Campos, Frese, et al. (2017). Teaching personal initiative beats traditional business training in boosting small business in West Africa. Science, 357, 1287–1290).

Target Audience

World Bank/IFC staff, private sector companies, researchers, international organizations, government officials, policymakers, development practitioners and other relevant stakeholders working on making business trainings and more opportunities available for women entrepreneurs who want to start or improve their business.

Questions Submitted

jose luis

- Aug 2, 2022
muy bueno

Mahaman Mourtala

- Jul 8, 2022

Mohammad Nadir

- Mar 9, 2022


- Jan 24, 2022


- Jan 18, 2022


- Dec 22, 2021
Women entrepreneurs often lack access to financial and human capital, face a host of additional constraints based on social norms and gender roles, and have different mindsets and approaches to enterprise. I believe that we need to encourage every women who are capable of leading who can be an example for the societies.


- Nov 5, 2021
Quite interesting.
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