Female entrepreneurship and the market process: gender-based public policy considerations

The incidence of, and controversy surrounding,gender-based small business training programs are both increasing. However, thenature and impact of these initiatives are not well documented. This empiricalpaper summarizes the findings of an evaluation of the impact of the Women’sEnterprise Initiative (WEI), a program that seeks to foster the development ofwomen-owned firms in Western Canada. Program assessment criteria included program effectiveness, strengths andweaknesses, job creation and retention, business survival, incrementality, andthe facilitation of enterprise growth. The results suggest that men and womenseek different types of assistance with respect to business development. Whencompared to a control group of business owners, WEI clients and women businessowners were more likely than males to prioritize intrinsic outcomes such asevaluation of entrepreneurial skills, building self-confidence, and improvingstrategic management skills. Conversely, male business owners prioritizedoperational skills such as helping to improve strategic management andidentifying opportunities for growth.

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