The impact of gender and business training for female microfinance clients in Vietnam

Publication Details

Vu, N. T. H, Velzen, van R, Lensik, R and Bulte, E, 2015. The impact of gender and business training for female microfinance clients in Vietnam, 3ie Grantee Final Report. New Delhi: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie).

Link to Source
Nhung Thi Hong Vu, Rosine van Velzen, Robert Lensink, Erwin Bulte
Institutional affiliations
None specified
Grant-holding institution
None specified
East Asia and Pacific (includes South East Asia)
Finance, Private Sector Development
Microfinance, Small Scale Enterprise
Gender analysis
Microfinance, Small Scale Enterprise
Gender analysis
Equity Focus
None specified
Evaluation design
Difference-in Difference (DID), Instrumental Variables (IV), Randomised Control Trials (RCT), Mixed Methods
3ie Final Grantee Report
3ie Funding Window
Open Window Round 3


This study documents the impact of offering a gender and business training to female microfinance clients in Vietnam on business outcomes and women empowerment using a randomised controlled trial.


Many researchers argue that management and business skills are crucial to increase productivity and growth of micro and small businesses, especially for women. Working with Tao Yeu May (people loving people) Fund, a large microfinance institution in the North of Vietnam operating since 1992, this study evaluates the impact of a module developed by the International Labor Organization (ILO) called the Gender and Entrepreneurship Together (GET) Ahead training.

Research questions

What are the effects of training on female microfinance clients with regard to:

  • Their business activities 
  • Entry and exit from business 
  • Empowerment


Intervention design

This study evaluates the impact of gender and business training on female microfinance clients in Vietnam. Specifically, the training centered on promotion of gender equality, developing women’s confidence, basic enterprise management and identifying business opportunities. The training was administered during the monthly meetings over the course of 9 months. The study randomly assigned female microfinance borrowers into three treatment arms. In the first arm, every woman was invited to the training with her husband. In the second arm, every woman was invited to the training without her husband. In the third arm, women were not provided any training.

Theory of change

The main goals of the gender and business training are to improve gender and business outcomes for poor microfinance clients. The trainings aim at enhancing the business management skills by increasing business knowledge. It is expected that improvements in business knowledge will help women implement new business practices that will lead to an improvement in the business outcomes. Among other things, a primary aim of inviting husbands to participate in the gender and business training was to enhance the effects of training on women empowerment. Improved understanding of concepts like gender equality could be an important precursor to changing husbands’ behaviour toward their wife. 

Evaluation design

This study uses a randomised controlled trial and combines it with qualitative research (Focus group discussion and in-depth interviews) to evaluate the training.

The study used credit centres as the unit of treatment assigning 187 credit centres to the three treatment arms. The study randomised the training at the credit centre level to reduce the possibilities of spillover. Each of this credit centre had an average of 30 female clients.

Female clients were interviewed at baseline, midline, and endline.

Main findings

The findings suggest that combining a gender and business training leads to significant improvements in gender and business knowledge of participating women. The training is also found to positively impact business performances of female-run businesses leading to increase in profit margins. 

Furthermore the study finds that women who were accompanied by husbands at the training had more bargaining power within the household. Even though the additional impact of inviting husbands is not significant, the results suggest that the involvement of men might improve the impact of the training in the longer run, especially regarding gender issues. In the short term though the study finds no evidence that inclusion of husbands helped improve women bargaining power. However, at the same time, the qualitative evaluation suggests that most women appreciated the involvement of husbands in the trainings very much. In order to scale-up the intervention later, women in the treated group recommended that men should be trained in the gender module. While the regression results show positive effects of inviting husbands on several outcome variables, the additional effects are not statistically significant, possibly due to a low power of the estimates, in combination with small effect sizes on account of the short time period under consideration. 

Implications for implementers

  • Provide business training in addition to microfinance 
  • Add a gender component to the business training 
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