Promoting women’s entrepreneurship
– interim report 1
The Promote women’s entrepreneurship programme has now run over two programme periods. Growth Analysis has been commissioned by the government to evaluate the second programme period, from 2011 to 2014. This is the first interim report from the evaluation.
The programme was initiated to get women to start up and run businesses. What Growth Analysis is to evaluate is whether the programme has had:
- a positive effect on the probability of women starting up businesses
- a positive effect on profitability and revenues in women’s businesses.
In the present report, we have focused on how the programme is structured and how the remainder of the evaluation will be executed. We analyse the programme’s logic and context. We have also investigated how the programme has developed on the basis of previous experience and how politicians’ willingness to promote women’s entrepreneurship has changed over the two programme periods. The programme has developed since the first programme period and for 2011-2014 is more streamlined and focused on three main objective domains: work on good examples and attitudes, changes in the business-promotion system and growth through business development.
Growth Analysis’ commission does not include evaluating effects of good examples and changes in attitudes towards entrepreneurship. The prerequisites for entrepreneurship have however changed as the programme has progressed and many other measures have been applied alongside the programme that may affect attitudes towards and incentives for both men’s and women’s entrepreneurship. Examples include new markets in the service sector and changes in the social security systems that exist for business owners.
We have summarised a number of qualitative evaluations and regional pilot studies conducted by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth over the course of the programme. These show that the programme was well-motivated in order to contribute to changes in working methods and regulatory frameworks in the business-promotion system. The background is that business subsidies and counselling have tended to emphasise traditionally male-dominated sectors. In several regions, therefore, the programme has been an eye-opener that has stimulated change.
Growth Analysis has also compiled a list of measures to promote women’s entrepreneurship in five other European countries. The review was made to put the Swedish programme in an international context and to see how other countries have motivated, designed and followed up the measures they have applied. The countries have primarily motivated their different measures with growth policy ambitions but efforts to promote women’s entrepreneurship have been a way to work for equality. The measures have been very different, ranging from individual counselling and networking to complete programmes. All the countries follow up development of how many businesses are started up and run by women and men but the impacts of the various focused measures have not been evaluated.
This kind of impact assessment is an important part of Growth Analysis’ commission: to determine the impact of business development measures on increasing the number of new businesses and growth in existing ones.
In conclusion, the review shows three central starting-points in the evaluation:
- The programme is to have improved prerequisites for women entrepreneurs and the business promotion system is to offer opportunities on equal terms for both men and women.
- The programme is part of a large-scale publicly funded effort for growth on equal terms and is one measure among many. The present evaluation can provide a basis for learning how other promotional measures can be evaluated.
In an international comparison, the Promote women’s entrepreneurship programme differs with respect to ambition and growth and ability to be evaluated. This presents a unique opportunity for Sweden to collect knowledge on the impacts of a programme directed at the women target group.