Published 13 December 2018

Promoting women’s entrepreneurship – results of business development and innovation measures

The Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis (Tillväxtanalys) was tasked by the Government to evaluate measures in the Promoting Women’s Entrepreneurship programme, which was a State initiative from 2011 to 2014 to benefit women’s entrepreneurship. This report presents the effects and results of business development and innovation measures included in the programme. The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) allocated SEK 45 million per year during the period from 2011 to 2014, to co-finance projects that offered knowledge and tools for business development and innovation to women who had, or wished to start, their own businesses. The programme was intended to contribute to increased entrepreneurship and growth of businesses owned by women.

The Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis (Tillväxtanalys) was tasked by the Government to evaluate measures in the Promoting Women’s Entrepreneurship programme, which was a State initiative from 2011 to 2014 to benefit women’s entrepreneurship. This report presents the effects and results of business development and innovation measures included in the programme. The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) allocated SEK 45 million per year during the period from 2011 to 2014, to co-finance projects that offered knowledge and tools for business development and innovation to women who had, or wished to start, their own businesses. The programme was intended to contribute to increased entrepreneurship and growth of businesses owned by women. The programme consisted of about 390 projects, which included a variety of activities directed to one or more of the target groups of this initiative. It was the actors in charge of regional development that chose, based on the needs of their respective regions, the portfolio of projects and activities that would be offered the region’s entrepreneurs.

Promoting women’s entrepreneurship – results of business development and innovation measures studies two types of participants. The first consisted of the businesses that took part in the business development and innovation measures and who had principals who were women. The second group consisted of private individual participants. We found that the businesses that took part in the programme showed greater growth in terms of output value, value added and employment than other comparable businesses run by women. The participants had higher output value and value added of 12 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively after two years, and an impressive 19 and 24 per cent after four years after the programme, compared to a comparable control group. Employment by these businesses was seven per cent greater two years after participation, but there was no effect on employment after four years. No significant effects of participation could be found on business survival.

Two years later, the private individuals who participated owned businesses to a greater extent, both as full-time entrepreneurs and as part-time owners who are also employed, compared to a control group of individuals who were similar to the first group. This outcome, however, can be explained partially by the fact that those who took part in such a programme had a greater interest in starting businesses than women in the general population (and the control group) would ordinarily have. The results should therefore not be viewed as having exclusively been produced by the measures and activities offered by the programme. In order to additionally be able to evaluate whether this initiative was beneficial to women who wanted to start businesses, we would recommend conducting a later study to analyse whether the companies that were started by participants were more profitable than other comparable newly-started businesses. Due to the fact that this evaluation has been performed relatively close to the ending of the programme, this matter will be left out of this evaluation.

In summary, we have found that the programme for business development and innovation measures have generated positive effects for those businesses and individuals that took part in this programme. In this context, however, we should mention that the Agency for Growth Policy Analysis did not conduct any cost-benefit analysis of the programme, and consequently, cannot relate the identified results to the costs of the sub-programme.¹ In the future, in order to derive additional knowledge as to which activities or combination of activities (such as counselling, network-creation activities, skills and expertise development, etcetera) are most fruitful, the documentation related to these activities must be improved. In this evaluation, it has not been possible to study the effects and results of the individual activities that have been conducted. Instead, this evaluation relates to the initiative as a whole.

¹ In order to perform such an analysis, one must investigate how the usefulness of the measures should be defined, compare the total costs to the value of the results of the measure in question, and, for example, determine how long the effects can be assumed to continue. The Agency for Growth Policy Analysis has not made this type of assessment.

Title
Promoting women’s entrepreneurship – results of business development and innovation measures

Serial number
PM 2018:21

Reference number
2013/001

Download the report in SwedishPDF