Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Better Understanding, Better Choices, Better Impact

Authored by

Wade Channell
Wade Channell
Economic Growth Specialist for Gender

Wade Channell joined USAID’s GenDev Office in 2013 as the Economic Growth Specialist for Gender and supports the offices of Economic Policy, Trade and Regulatory Reform and the Development Credit A

uthority. For the previous 20 years, he focused on the enabling environment for business and growth, with 13 years as a consultant and seven working for USAID’s Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment. Wade has worked on five continents in more than 50 countries as well as lived in Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Croatia (where he was president of American Chamber of Commerce), and Belgium. He became aware of gender concerns during a 2007 commercial law assessment in Pakistan and has slowly integrated gender understanding into assessments, analyses, and designs. He is a regular trainer for economic growth, agricultural policy, and post-conflict investment environments for USAID and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University. His articles on rule of law have been published in more than two languages in at least three countries.

Last year in Kabul, a woman entrepreneur boldly offered much-needed insight into USAID programming. “We really appreciate the week-long business courses you have provided,” she said, “but what we need is someone who can help us put the lessons into practice.” For her, standard training was not enough.

But what is enough? In a world of limited resources, we’re constantly forced to make choices, and in the world of women’s economic empowerment, those choices can be critical. What makes the difference in helping women entrepreneurs succeed in growing their businesses? Which project interventions work? Which don’t?

In 2013, USAID decided to find out which kinds of interventions are most effective in moving women-owned small and medium enterprises further up the economic ladder. The resultant Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME) Initiative selected three grantees in disparate locations to build an evidence base:  

  • In India, CARE has been working among women cashew growers and processors;
  • In the Kyrgyz Republic, ACDI/VOCA has been engaging women-run businesses in agribusiness, tourism, and garments; and 
  • In Peru, GRADE has been providing assistance to women-owned SMEs in textiles, handicrafts, and food services.

Over the next year, our robust monitoring and evaluation of these projects (to be carried out by Management Systems International) should begin to answer our questions on effectiveness. But even before the final results are in, our implementers have some valuable lessons to share, such as how to construct a randomized control trial, how to deal with attrition, and how to engage men in support of women entrepreneurs.

Over the next the next few weeks, our implementing partners will be sharing these and other insights with you. More will follow this summer, including a learning brief with the combined lessons from all three interventions. And, in the next year, we expect that our monitoring and evaluation efforts will begin to provide clear, evidence-based answers to guide future programming for greater effectiveness.

Stay tuned!