How Can Training Be Made More Effective for Women-Led Small and Medium Enterprises? Preliminary Findings from Mexico and Peru
September 27, 2016Washington, D.C.

Join a lunchtime discussion with the Gender & Development and Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME) teams of the World Bank Group.


Women's Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME) is a trust fund partnership with USAID that aims to promote and increase the entry and growth of women-owned and managed small and medium enterprises. It supports rigorous evaluations of innovative interventions designed to help growth orientated male and female entrepreneurs in 12 countries. Training is often proposed as a way to support women entrepreneurs grow their businesses and make them more profitable. But evaluations have shown mixed results from training programs, especially for female entrepreneurs. This event presents findings from evaluations of training programs in Peru and Mexico, which have experimented with new approaches to training female entrepreneurs.

Previous work has shown that business training for female micro entrepreneurs in Peru had little or no impact on key outcomes such as business revenue, profits or employment. Martin Valdivia of Grupo de Analisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE) presents results from an innovative intervention in Peru that aims to identify effective alternatives to training.  He evaluates whether an intervention fostering business networks for female entrepreneurs can replace the business advisor in helping diagnose problems, plan and implement innovations and lead to increased revenues and profits. World Bank Senior Economist Leonardo Iacovone focuses on the question of whether a soft-skills component can add value to traditional business training. He presents preliminary findings from a pilot implemented by an entrepreneurship center in Mexico for female entrepreneurs in urban and semi-rural areas. The intervention combines traditional managerial training with an additional component of "soft skills" training which focuses on enhancing personal effectiveness. It evaluates the impact of the program on two different populations -- one composed of "average" entrepreneurs and the other composed of "self-selected" entrepreneurs who heard about the program and approached the entrepreneurship center.


Wade Channell, Senior Economic Growth Advisor for Gender, Office of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)


Martin Valdivia, Grupo de Analisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE)

Leonardo Iacovone, Senior Economist, Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, World Bank

Closing Remarks:

Caren Grown, Senior Director for Gender, World Bank 

  • Wade Channell, J.D.

    Wade Channell, J.D., is an Economic Growth Advisor for the Office of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (GenDev) at the United States Agency for International Development. A specialist in business enabling environments, he has worked extensively on issues that constrain growth and private sector development, first as a commercial lawyer (in Brazil and New York) and then as a development professional. He now leads USAID's efforts to create a framework for promoting women's economic empowerment and equality. In the past two years, Wade has also overseen implementation of the Women's Leadership in SMEs (WLSME) project. On other fronts, he works in and with conflict-affected countries, using commercial legal issues as an inroad to more general rule of law challenges. Focusing on the nexus of rule of law, business, and gender, he has worked as well on a value chain approach to combatting the business of human trafficking. Wade is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University, teaching in both the policy school and the business school. He has worked in more than 50 countries on five continents, including Afghanistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burma, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, and South Sudan. He regularly publishes on rule of law issues.
  • Martín Valdivia, Ph.D.

    Martín Valdivia, Ph.D. in Applied Economics from University of Minnesota, is a senior researcher at the Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE) in Lima, Peru since 1993. He also performs as director for Latin America of the Poverty and Economic Policy (PEP) Research Network. His research interests expand to several areas within development economics, while focusing on the use of experimental methods to understand social behavior and evaluate the impacts of social programs, in particular those related to economics of female economic empowerment and financial inclusion. His research has been repeatedly funded by grants from USAID, IADB, the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the PEP Research Network, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the USDOL, and has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as REStat and JDE, among others. He is currently coordinating research in several countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Peru.
  • Leonardo Iacovone

    Leonardo Iacovone is a Senior Economist with Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice and the Focal Point for Trade and Competitiveness for Mexico and Colombia. He joined the World Bank as a Young Professional in 2008, and has worked in the Development Research Group and Financial and Private Sector Development Unit of the Africa Region. His current scope of work covers analytical, operational and impact evaluation tasks in areas of microeconomic determinants of growth related to innovation and entrepreneurship. In the last 3 years he has been focusing on Latin America (in particular Mexico and Colombia) and Africa, but has also worked on East Asia (Indonesia) and ECA (Russia) in the past. He was trained at Bocconi University of Milan, Italy, and University Torquato di Tella of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and received a PhD in Economics from University of Sussex. His research has been widely published in top peer-reviewed journals such as Economic Journal, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of International Economics, World Development, World Economy, World Bank Economic Review and Industrial and Corporate Change.
  • Caren Grown

    Caren Grown, Senior Director for Gender at the World Bank Group, is recognized internationally as an expert on gender and development. Before joining the World Bank Group in 2014, she was Economist-in-Residence and Co-Director of the Program on Gender Analysis in Economics at American University. From 2013-2014, she led the UNU-WIDER program on aid effectiveness and gender equality, and from 2011-2013 she served as Senior Gender Adviser and Acting Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment at USAID. Among her previous positions, Dr. Grown has been Senior Scholar and Co-Director of the Gender Equality and Economy Program at the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College, Director of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Governance team at the International Center for Research on Women, and Senior Program Officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Event Details
  • When: 12:30-2 p.m. ET
  • where: MC C2-131, World Bank Headquarters
  • CONTACT: Shirley Bekoe

Taking it to Scale: Women at the Helm