See How They Grow: Business Development Services for Women's Business Growth

Published: August 2001

This document presents a study which focuses on lessons learned in the provision of business development services (BDS) that assist business growth for women-owned enterprises. The study consists of two parts. The first chapter is a review of the existing literature on the international experience in BDS and the major findings of research on lessons learned in BDS as they apply to women clientele and growth in their enterprises. The second part concentrates on deriving lessons from two local BDS initiatives, Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) Sericulture Program and Independent Business Enrichment Center (IBEC) Enterprise Training Program in South Africa.

Key Findings

  • Achieving business growth of clientele is emerging as an important performance indicator for business development services (BDS).
  • Business growth concerns are central to provision of BDS for women-owned businesses around the world.
  • The macroeconomic context influences the performance of BDS providers and has a bearing on women's business growth.
  • Institutional capacities of the BDS intermediaries matter when it comes to the provision of services which are conducive to business growth.
  • More demand driven services that take into account issues constraining business growth for women entrepreneurs are needed; issues such as domestic and public violence.
  • Developing horizontal business growth indicators may better reflect women's business strategies and are needed.
  • Providing BDS for women's economic groups is an effective strategy for achieving women's business growth, especially in rural areas.

Populations Poor, Rural, Urban, Women

Complementary Outcomes Gender-based Violence

Publishers International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

Geographic Focus Asia (Southern) / Bangladesh

Funded by Ford Foundation