PEP-PAGE project

Macroeconomic implications of female entrepreneurs facing financial frictions
to access credit in Cameroon

This analysis shows, on the one hand, that when borrowing from the banking sector, female entrepreneurs face frictions mainly due to restrictions related to collaterals. On the other hand, the results suggest that when the female sector is granted loans to the same extent as the male sector, it performs better in terms of value-added in GDP. Find out more below, or though the PEP Working paper 2016-02 and Policy brief 125

The findings and ensued policy recommendations of this particular PEP study have been used to inform the World Bank's Memorandum of the Cameroon Economy, as well as in other national policy advisory sessions. They were also presented during a number of key national and international events, and reported in national media. Find out more below, or through the following PEP impact brief

Context, issues and objectives

While the country has achieved important milestones in terms of gender equality, and despite government efforts to promote female entrepreneurship, women's participation in entrepreneurial activities in Cameroon remains very low with only 5% of women becoming entrepreneurs.

It appears that one of the key constraints faced by female entrepreneurs is related to their access to financial services (World Economic Forum, 2014).

The financial system in Cameroon lags behind those in Sub-Saharan Africa and other low/middle-income countries. Due to a lack of viable alternatives (the financial markets are few and inefficient), the system is largely dominated by the banking sector. However, access to banking services remains very low in Cameroon with only 20.7% of the adult population holding a formal bank account. This is exacerbated by the very low bank density in the country (one bank for approx. 50,000 people). As a result, bank lending remains a marginal source of funding with long-term lending constituting less than 1.5% of total loans due mainly to financial frictions.

Research questions, method and key findings

While previous studies on the issue focus mainly on the relationship between gender and inequality, there is no literature emphasizing the macro effects of gender-specific financial frictions. Using advanced techniques of CGE modeling and simulations, this team of PEP researchers aimed to assess the effects financial frictions faced by female entrepreneurs on macroeconomic performance in Cameroon, as well as on the policies most likely to eliminate these frictions.

According to the researchers’ analysis, the frictions occur mainly because female entrepreneurs face significant restrictions related to collateral when borrowing from the banking sector. Their findings also suggest that when the “female sector” (or the sector of female-owned firms, which are relatively more labor-intensive) is granted loans to the same extent as the “male sector” (more capital-intensive) it performs better in terms of value-added in GDP.

Indeed, results from the simulations conducted by the researchers show that, if financial constraints are “loosened” by 30%, productivity in the female sector will increase by 40% and job creation will increase by 50% (with expansionary effects on the economy). Or, if the level of constraint were to be symmetric and low for both (male and female) sectors, the national economy would see a 5% increase in GDP, a 50% increase in investments and a 60% increase in job creation.

Furthermore, both sectors have complementary roles in sustaining economic activity in the context of economic downturn.

Find out more about the research methods and findings, as well as ensued policy implications, through the PEP publications posted below - in particular, the Working paper 2016-02 and Policy brief 125

Project links and documents

Research team

Find out more about this project - its analytical approach and outcomes - through the following links/documents:
  • Mr. Thierry Kame Babilla
    CEREG, University of Yaounde II
  • Ms. Sandra Kendo
    CEREG, University of Yaounde II
  • Ms. Adele Ngo Bilong
    CEREG, University of Yaounde II
  • Martin Ndzana Eloundou
    CEREG, University of Yaounde II
PEP Project MPIA-12617 Working paper 2016-02 (PDF)
Project proposal (Word) Policy brief 125 (PDF)
Final report (PDF) Impact brief (PDF)

Policy engagement, consultation and dissemination

While designing their research project, the team consulted with many different policy actors and stakeholders at the national level, to collect their input and confirm their interest in the issues and potential outcomes of the research. These included high-level officials from the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Economy, the Central Bank of African States, and African Bank of Development.

Early in the research cycle, the team had the opportunity to consult with the Chief Economist of the World Bank Mission in Cameroon. Soon after, they were asked to meet with a delegation of World Bank officials from Washington (and other high-level Cameroonian officials) to present and discuss their project, and show how their expected findings may inform structural transformation in Cameroon. Their presentation raised keen interest and the team was asked to provide periodic updates on the progress of their research and findings.

A second meeting was organized in March 2015 with the same representatives, during which the team was asked to provide input using their PEP findings and resulting recommendations to directly assist in the preparation of the World Bank’s Memorandum of the Cameroon Economy. This Memorandum was then submitted officially by the World Bank to the Higher Cameroonian Authority.

A few months later (June 2015), the researchers were the only local experts invited to participate in a special high-level advisory meeting, co-organized by the World Bank Mission in Central Africa and Cameroon Authorities, to discuss the adoption of policies and measures to promote development in Cameroon and achieve the country’s emergence by 2035. In addition to the World Bank, this meeting included representatives from several Ministries (Finance, Economy, Public Service, Social Affairs, Environment, Higher Education), the CEMAC (Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa States), the private sector (GICAM), the National Institute of Statistic, and civil society. Find out more in the following PEP impact brief

Finally, for these and other outstanding achievements, the research team won second prize of the 2015 PEP Best Practice Awards, presented during the PEP Annual Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.


In addition to these special policy advisory meetings initiated by the World Bank, the project and related outcomes were also presented and discussed during the following events.

  • In August 2014, the project team leader, Thierry Kame Babilla, was invited to present the research work/findings during the 2014 International Workshop of the Social Sciences Research in Africa, organized by the CODESRIA in Yaoundé, and for which he received an award
  • In November 2014, the team was invited to present during the African Economic Conference, organized by the Economic Commission of Africa, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • On July 8 2015, the team organized a PEP national policy conference to communicate their findings to the institutions and stakeholders who had not attended the previous meetings. These included representatives from the Ministries of Economy, of Higher Education, and of Employment and Social Welfare. National experts from academia, the private sector and civil society also participated in the discussion, which provided the team with very useful insights and comments. The news of the event and findings also benefited from significant media coverage during a number of Radio France International broadcasts.

  • Soon after (July 2015), the team was also invited to participate, along with some Cameroonians officials from the Ministry of the Economy, in the African Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA) International Learning Event, held in Cape Town, South Africa, and sponsored by the World Bank Group
  • In September 2015, the team leader was the only researcher from a developing country (and sole African) to be invited to present at the 11th DYNARE Conference, held in Brussels.

PEP-PAGE projects

The project described above is one of the several projects selected for support under the PEP research and capacity building initiative for Policy Analysis on Growth and Employment (PAGE) in developing countries. The PAGE program is co-funded by UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and Canada's International Development Research Center (IDRC).

This particular project was selected in June 2013, following the first of three competitive calls for proposals of the PAGE initiative. So far, a total of 42 projects have been selected for support under the two first PAGE funding rounds. Find out more

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