Friends at Work: Can Peer Support Stimulate Female Entrepreneurship?

Does the lack of peers contribute to the observed gender gap in entrepreneurial success, and is the constraint stronger for women facing more restrictive social norms? We offered two days of business counseling to a random sample of customers of India’s largest women’s bank. A random subsample was invited to attend with a friend. The intervention had a significant immediate impact on participants’ business activity, but only if they were trained in the presence of a friend. Four months later, those trained with a friend were more likely to have taken out business loans, were less likely to be housewives, and reported increased business activity and higher household income. The positive impacts of training with a friend were stronger among women from religious or caste groups with social norms that restrict female mobility.

Delivery partner 
Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) Bank
Hypotheses/research question 
Can women make as good of entrepreneurs as men? Are women who attend business training with a friend better able to expand their businesses and increase household earnings and expenditures? Can the encouragement of female entrepreneurs to set concrete goals, especially in the presence of a friend, lead to increased demand for bank services?
Study design 
Parallel-group
Reference 
Field, E., Jayachandran, S., Pande, R., & Rigol, R., 2015. 'Friendship At Work: Can Peer Effects Catalyze Female Entrepreneurship?'. NBER Working Paper Series, April, No. 21093.