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Skill Shortages as a Barrier to Women’s Start Ups: A Model with Evidence from Eswatini

The shortages of entrepreneurial skills, both perceived and actual, have lowered the rate of opportunity-driven women’s entrepreneurship. This paper contributes to the literature on entrepreneurship, gender and development with a theoretical and empirical analysis linking gender differences in entrepreneurial outcomes to skills and business training. The role of skills, including self-confidence, and training for the entrepreneurial performance is tested on a survey of urban entrepreneurs in Swaziland. The results help explain why narrow business training programs for female entrepreneurs have often limited success in improving performance of women-run firms. Training programs for women entrepreneurs encompassing advanced business and technical (e.g. hard) skills as well as networking and confidence building (e.g. soft skills) could be more effective.

Working paper 768
1 December 2018
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