IMON International

Can a start-up loan programme – specialized
training + start up loan – increase women
entrepreneurship and empowerment among
IMON clients?
IMON International:
An impact assessment of a
start-up loan programme,
IMON International,
Women empowerment: A Global Challenge
Women entrepreneurs now account for ¼ to 1/3 of all
businesses in the formal economy worldwide
 Great majority of women-owned businesses are very
small or micro
 Barriers for women to go into entrepreneurship are both
societal and systemic
Statistics taken from the ILO factsheet on Women’s entrepreneurship Development 2012–
Challenges in Tajikistan
In the last decade entrepreneurship for women has decreased
and become a male-dominated activity.
Tajikistan is a country with conservative gender norms and high
migration for young men in working age: in some provinces
more than 70% of the working-age men migrated.
The social costs are high as many families have no male
household’ heads for years at a time.
Gender relations are distorted and divorce rates amongst the
highest in the world .
Women empowerment in Tajikistan is even lower in rural areas
and in certain regions such as Isfara and Istaravshan in the
North and Kurgan Tube and Shahrituz in the South
Microfinance for Decent Work (MF4DW) in a
Action Research Programme
 Timeframe: 2008-12
16 partner-MFIs worldwide
To measure the impact of decent work innovations
on the welfare of microfinance clients
MF4DW: Experimental Research Design
“…is used for the controlled testing of causal processes.”
• Target groups and Control Group
– Only target group(s) have access to the innovation.
• Client selection
(random sample / stratification / matching)
• Panel Data Sets
– Baseline survey before implementation of innovation
– One to four follow-up surveys
Women empowerment among IMON clients
Key Results from the Diagnostic Survey (2008):
• Men were more likely to decide about the use of the
loans by themselves than women. (88% for female
compared to 94% for male respondents)
• 65% of the clients had registered their business, but
male clients are registered more often than female
clients. (71% compared to 59%)
• 77% of the clients had income and expenditure books,
an equal percentage for men and women.
• Only 3% of the female and 0% of the male clients were
members of an association that represented their
• 64% of the clients even claimed there was no
association in Tajikistan.
IMON’s Innovation on Women Entrepreneurship
IMON’s Innovation:
A new start up loan for women with 2 components:
1) An entrepreneurship training targeting potential
women entrepreneurs; and
2) A start-up loan.
IMON’s Intended results:
Improving women’s entrepreneurial skills and practices
will lead to improvements in women’s empowerment
and entrepreneurial capacities.
IMON’s Innovation Results Chain
IMON’s Research Methodology
1. Training of Staff
 37 IMON staff members trained on surveying,
innovation methodology, and women entrepreneurship training
(Aug 09).
2. Baseline Survey
 Conducted with 486 training participants that were
then matched with 418 existing clients (Oct 09 – April 10 on a
roll out basis).
3. Delivery of women start-up product and follow-up
 Target clients are provided with the entrepreneurship
training .
 212 women who received training but did not access
the loan (TG1) and 275 women received the training product
and also accessed the start-up loan product (TG2).
4. Follow-up Surveys
 two follow-up surveys in total, on a rolling basis, every
8 months.
Results: Increased self-employment and
income generating opportunities
• 99% of women liked the training
• 258 out of 487 women who were trained reported to
have implemented their business idea (62% of women
who responded to the question)
• The majority of women started their business within 3
months after the training.
• Reasons for not starting a business were:
 family member influence,
 riskiness of the business plan,
 unforeseen expenses or
 more time needed to start the business
Results: Women entrepreneurship
• At baseline, the TG report more entrepreneurial
characteristics than the CG even though they had less
business experience.
• However at the follow-up surveys - TG seemed to have
become less convinced about their entrepreneurial
• Mixed results regarding the effects of the innovation on
business practices:
 positive impact on business registration, however:
 no significant effect on whether women reinvest
profits into their business.
• Increased awareness and usage of products and services
from the National Association of Business Women in
Tajikistan (NABWT)
Results: Empowerment
• At baseline:
 For 21% of the sample the husband was mainly in control
of the loan
 for 44% there was an equal decision making
 for 35% of the cases the women was in control of the
Women have more control over financial services, less control
over small expenses and the least control over large purchases
• No impact of the innovation on women empowerment
indicators for TG2 (training plus loan), but a small negative
impact for TG1 (loan only).
• For the longer term women who received only the training
experienced a reduction in control over large and small
Results: Business Case
• Mixed results in terms of economic benefits of
 Women in TG2 were equally willing to consider a new
loan after repayment as the CG.
 Start-up loan to be more risky as there is a higher
percentage of late payments.
• Exit rates for the TG2 lower than the CG (important
finding given high customer exit rates of 49% for the
CG and 44% for TG1 at second follow-up survey)
 Higher chance of accessing the loan amongst women
work in agriculture and trade
owned a business at baseline and
had families with a higher household dependency index
 Positive impacts of the innovation on selfemployment and business expansion, but mainly for
women who received both training and loan.
 Positive impact on business registration observed for
the training and loan group, but no effects on
reinvesting income into the business.
 Increase in awareness and usage of products and
services from the NABWT.
 Mixed results in terms of economic benefits of
innovation for IMON International
 Based on the positive results, IMON scaled up the
Recommendations from the ILO:
1) Continue providing support through training to potential
women entrepreneurs, which should include multiple follow-up
sessions with the group so that after the start-up training the
women can continue to meet with each other and discuss
gender topics;
2) Inquire further on the business case to develop a sustainable
business development service model; and
3) Share their tools methodologies, experiences and findings
through national and international networks of microfinance
institutions in order to encourage similar work in the promotion
of formalization and the campaign for Decent Work around the

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