Philanthropy Action

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Two years ago David McKenzie presented results of his work in Sri Lanka on the returns on capital for male and female entrepreneurs. He found that women had zero or negative returns on capital, while men, on average, generated fairly high returns. Since then he’s run a similar study in Ghana. I’ll be writing about this study in more detail later, including an interview with David, but for now I wanted to pass along the content of David’s last slide which covers his conclusions from the studies he’s done on this issue:

1) “Urban male microenterprise owners are underserved—in every country we’ve looked they have large returns to capital but microfinance products are not tailored to them.“

2) “Capital doesn’t seem to be enough to get subsistence female-owned businesses to grow.“

3) “There are a group of women whose profits do increase a lot with in-kind transfers [e.g. equipment, inventory, or raw materials, but not cash], but they are not the poorest women; and there is a limited number of them in South Asia, though more in Africa.“


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