The Intervention Design Matrix
Legal and Regulatory Framework
The legal and regulatory framework matrix category covers broad issues related to the laws, regulations, and policies passed by governments, including stakeholder participation and input into the decision-making process; the impact, or lack thereof, of these government efforts on citizens; and mechanisms for citizens to provide feedback.
Barriers include discriminatory laws or low levels of trust in public-facing bureaucrats; poor government outreach and information dissemination; difficulties businesses face providing input on how regulations impact them; and women’s lack of knowledge and information about and participation in government.
Potential interventions include reforming laws and regulations; introducing and implementing laws that are gender neutral; disseminating gender-sensitive awareness campaigns for newly passed legislation; soliciting feedback from citizens on how laws affect specific segments of the population; and improving firm and industry policies and practices to attract and retain more female workers. Projects teams can deploy these tools in their own legal/regulatory interventions, and/or build on this information in designing new types of interventions that include more sophisticated use of technology; examples include virtual consultations between governments and WSMEs in drafting legislation; gender-focused ePPD (electronic public-private dialogue) consultations; and other online processes that inform the development of new regulations or laws.
Access to Finance
The finance and credit portion of the matrix presents constraining factors and potential interventions related to women’s access to the financial products and services required to launch, operate, and grow their businesses.
Barriers to accessing finance are generally associated with gender differences in income, legal rights, lack of access to legal identification, credit histories, collateral, and technology. For women, these barriers often manifest as a lack of account ownership or a persistent focus on traditional collateral requirements (such as immovable property) for securing credit. Lack of access to financial services may also be linked to limited local presence, such as a lack of agent networks, and to limited trust and financial capability, as well as a lack of digital skills to manage digital financial services. Social barriers to personal engagement between women business owners and male credit providers or agents may also represent barriers.
Potential interventions in this area focus on ways to expand access to and use of digital financial services (DFS), which tend to be more cost effective and scalable and which create and utilize data to reduce information asymmetries and strengthen access to credit. Where women have widespread access to mobile phones, DFS can be delivered with relative ease; but even where women don’t own or control a mobile phone, digital financial services can still be delivered through cards or online or remote access services. Infrastructure related to credit information and collateral can provide other interventions, including innovative ways for women to address collateral requirements, such as partial credit guarantee schemes; movable collateral registries; and alternative scoring methods, including psychometric analysis. Ecosystem issues can also be critical to address, including access to digital ID and remote onboarding/e-KYC, improving agent networks, and providing consumer protections geared to women’s online experiences. On an industry basis, creating financial products and services based on WSME needs and preferences and strengthening outreach and financial capability/literacy can help sustain and improve access for women entrepreneurs. Finally, developing sex-disaggregated data on women’s access to and use of financial products and services, including digital, fintech, and MNO offerings, can help policy makers monitor improvements and the gaps faced by women entrepreneurs and determine which policies have the greatest impact and can provide valuable market data for private providers seeking to reach this market. Other opportunities to increase WSMEs’ access to finance and credit include employing technology to reduce corruption in lending practices or providing online gender-sensitive training for loan officers.
Training, Skills, and Information
The training, skills, and information section of the matrix presents the factors and interventions related to addressing persistent deficits in the skill and knowledge base of current and future women entrepreneurs.
Barriers reflect the generally restricted social and geographic radius experienced by most female entrepreneurs in developing countries and leading to small networks, lack of service infrastructure, and scant resources and training opportunities. Women also tend to have difficulties accessing technology easily and may have inadequate skills or knowledge in terms of financial literacy, business acumen, sector information, and other key dimensions.
Potential interventions aim to provide business skills through bundled services, such as disseminating information via networks and mentors or combining training with business competitions that award cash prizes. Access to business-specific information through digital channels can help women transition into more profitable sectors, as can technical assistance to enhance technology and improve processes. Use of soft skills training to strengthen women’s resilience and coping mechanisms for dealing with social backlash over moving into entrepreneurship has also proven successful.
Access to Markets
WSMEs face major challenges in access to markets, the fourth matrix area, and one for which technology-based tools hold great potential for new opportunities.
Barriers that women entrepreneurs experience when accessing markets include limited access to inputs, tools, assets, and collateral, as well as limited access to networks, information-sharing, and role models and concentration in less-profitable parts of value chains.
Potential interventions can provide new vehicles for linking women business owners to domestic and international markets, such as through electronic supplier databases and e-commerce platforms; gender-sensitive trade logistics; and enhanced technology, skills, and production processes that better integrate women-owned firms into value chains. Further opportunities are emerging in areas such as online e-government procurement.