Last month our Head of Training Carol Appel spoke at a workshop by our member Fate Foundation on female-led entrepreneurship. We asked her to summarise her key messages on why soft skills training is particularly important for female entrepreneurs.
Women supposedly have a number of advantages when it comes to soft skills, including emotional intelligence, motivation, tenacity and the ability to multi-task. However, it’s certainly true that in comparison to their male counterparts, women face a number of additional challenges when navigating a business environment.
In What works for women at work, Joan C. Williams & Rachel Dempsey outline several patterns that women in the business world repeatedly come up against. These include the Prove It Again thesis, where women are repeatedly required to provide more evidence of competence than men in order to be seen as equally competent, The Tightrope, in which women often find themselves caught between being perceived as either too feminine or too masculine, and the Maternal Wall, in which women are seen as less committed to work after they have had children. Soft skills development must therefore be a key element of any entrepreneurship support service, especially those directed to women.
[source: World Bank]
Indeed, recent research conducted by the World Bank in Togo compared a standard business training programme with psychology-based personal initiative training of similar structures and lengths. The results demonstrated that the personal initiative training resulted in increased profits for 30% of participants, while traditional business training created a statistically insignificant increase.
Those who received personal initiative training were more innovative, introduced more new products to their businesses, and were more likely to diversify into a new product line, than those in traditional training. Results were even higher for women entrepreneurs, who achieved a 40% increase in profits after 2 years of joining the personal initiative training.
That is why YBI has invested in soft skills development in the last few years, developing the Growth and Performance Skills training programme for entrepreneurs. To date, we are proud to have trained over 350 participants across 11 cohorts and 34 countries and certified 50 trainers, and we look forward to impacting hundreds more entrepreneurs in the years to come.
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