Saher Asad on the impact of improving communication networks on women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment

WIDER Seminar Series

Saher Asad on the impact of improving communication networks on women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment

Saher Asad will present at the WIDER Seminar Series on 4 May 2022.

Impact of improving communication networks on women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment: Evidence from randomized experiment in Pakistan


Small scale entrepreneurship is an important source of employment for women in developing countries such as Pakistan. However, the returns from these enterprises remain low as the women are unable to gauge changing market demand as well as properly market their products due to their inability to travel. One of the key reasons for this inability to travel is the lack of security. Access to a stable cell phone connection can help improve women’s mobility by improving their connectivity with household members during travel. This improved mobility might improve their ability to gauge changing market demand as well as sell their products to more profitable markets leading to potential income gains. This paper uses data from a randomized controlled Trial (RCT) with 3000 women in Pakistan to study the impact of improving communication network quality on the ability to travel, perceptions related to safety, entrepreneurship related activities (including gauging market demand and travelling to different markets), credit take-up, enterprise profits as well as women’s empowerment.

About the speaker

Saher Asad is currently visiting scholar at UNU-WIDER and Assistant Professor of Economics at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). She received a Ph.D. in Economics from George Washington University in 2016 as a Fulbright Scholar and is also currently associated as Research Fellow with Centre of Economic Research Pakistan (CERP), Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS) and Mahbub-Ul-Haq Research Center (MHRC). In her work as a development economist, she looks at the impact of information and communication technology (ICTs) on agriculture and women’s labor market decisions in Pakistan. Here she documents the causal mechanisms through which growth in access to ICTs has reduced wastage of produce in rural areas. She is also currently conducting experiments on potential low-cost interventions for reducing spoilage faced by street vendors selling perishable produce. Her other most recent research projects include studying the political economy of competition in media markets in developing countries, understanding mechanisms to counter hate speech as well as evaluating impacts of interventions targeted towards improving public service delivery.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases the latest research on key topics in development economics. It provides a forum for for visiting scholars, UNU-WIDER researchers, external researchers, policymakers and industry specialists to present their research.

In addition to providing a forum for both academic debate and training, the series presents an opportunity for policymakers and others interested in development to learn about the latest research methods and findings.

The WIDER Seminar Series events take place on Wednesdays. All those interested are invited to register and attend via Zoom.