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Aspirations of Filipino Women Entrepreneurs in the Informal Economy. “ I just want to have food on the table when I come back from school ” A little boy from Bagak , Bataan “ I want my son to become an engineer ” A parent from San Pedro, Laguna “ My teachers are my problems ”

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“I just want to have food on the table when I come back from school”

A little boy from Bagak, Bataan

  • “I want my son to become an engineer”

A parent from San Pedro, Laguna

  • “My teachers are my problems”

A secondary dropout from Samar

aspiration defined



plural noun: aspirations

  • a hope or ambition of achieving something. (Oxford English Dictionary 1989)

"the needs and aspirations of the people"

To aspire means “to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal” (Merriam-Webster 2012)

Aspiration defined
aspiration failure theory

a lack of proactive behavior to better one’s future can in part be explained by constraints faced in the process of forming aspirations

  • The aspiration failure framework attempts to explain why some poorer populations tend to invest less in their own future, despite important potential returns. This lack of investment can in turn be used to explain lack of information, market failures, and low private appropriation of returns, as well as identity issues and psychological factors


Pessimism vs. Aspirations Failure



Aspiration level

and gap

Aspiration failure


Efforts to improve



influenced by the size and composition of one’s social network




To understand the aspirations of women entrepreneurs in the informal sector

  • To measure differences in entrepreneurial attitudes activity and aspirations among women in the informal sector
  • To study the consequences for entrepreneurial-oriented behaviour of women ( invest in income-generating activities) that is linked to the level of aspirations
  • To determine the relationship of the aspirations of women and the different developmental areas including poverty reduction, investment patterns and socio-economic transformation
research questions

Are there differences in entrepreneurial attitudes, activity and aspirations among women entrepreneurs in the informal sector?

  • Is the aspiration index proposed in this study reliable and valid in measuring the level of aspirations?
  • What is the role played by aspirations in shaping entrepreneur-oriented behavior of women in the informal sector?
  • Is there a relationship between aspiration formation and rates of return to investment?
  • Is poverty affected by low levels of aspiration, i.e., do high aspirations reduce poverty?
Research Questions
background and introduction

Engaged in the production of goods and supply of services and can be household unincorporated enterprises etc.

  • Sub-sectors, among others: micro-entrepreneurs, home-based workers, vendors, small transport operators, petty retailers, barter traders, small-scale miners etc.
  • Informal sector provides 89% of total employment (NSCB, 2013)

Informal Sector of the Economy

Background and Introduction
background and introduction1

33% in the informal sector are women (NSCB, 2013)

  • Exposure to low, irregular income and wages, and poor working conditions
  • Have very limited access to financing, especially formal bank credit and high fixed-cost of credit providers
  • Understanding the aspirations that women entrepreneurs have is of crucial importance to designing policies in developmental areas
  • Aspiration formation can help particularly in the informal sector, and aid in enhancing programs that stimulate depth of entrepreneurial activity.

Women Aspiration in the Informal Sector

Background and Introduction
data and methodology

CBMS (2011) data as baseline data in profiling

  • Randomly sampled women entrepreneurs drawn from the CBMS sample in Tanauan, Batangas, one of provinces in CALABARZON, where we can find 12% of the total labor force involved in the informal sector, either self-employed or operators of own business
  • For the pilot, five barangays were randomly sampled: Boot, Hidalgo, Janopol Oriental, PantayMatanda, and Laurel.
  • Ten female household heads were randomly selected in each barangay
    • wholesale/retail trade related workers, housewives
    • 45-63 years old
    • Educational attainment: Elementary graduate – 1st year high school

Data and Survey

Data and Methodology
data and methodology1

Instrument covering six dimensions (income, assets, education, children’s education, social benefits and social status) aggregated with individual-specific weights to come up with an aspiration index

  • Perceived minimum and maximum level and the present status of this six dimensions.
  • Two rounds of the survey three weeks apart using the same questionnaires
  • Capacity of the proposed aspiration index to predict entrepreneur-oriented behaviour will be investigated.
  • Reliability of the instrument will also be assessed variation in enumerators’ experience, change of mood of respondent

Survey Instrument

  • i = respondent
  • k = dimension (income, assets, education, children’s education, social benefits and social status)
  • 𝑎𝑖𝑘 = individual’s response on aspiration question
  • 𝑤𝑖𝑘 = weight assigned by respondent
  • 𝜇𝑘 = sample mean for the responses
  • ρ𝑘 = standard deviation for the responses
Data and Methodology
capacity of the proposed aspiration index to predict entrepreneur oriented behavior

individual’s potential demand for credit to invest in family business; short-run vs long-run investments

Follow-up question on “what type of investment would you make if you are given the loan?’

capacity of the proposed aspiration index to predict entrepreneur-oriented behavior
testing for relaiability usability and validity

1. Usability—Can the instrument be administered within standard surveys? Are respondents willing to answer such questions?

  • 2. Reliability—Can the instrument be trusted to provide consistent measures of aspiration on repeated applications? To what extent are the obtained answers conditioned by enumerators’ capacities, the questionnaire design, or both?
  • 3. Validity—Is the instrument effectively measuring only aspirations? Are the obtained responses in line with expected determinants of aspirations and corresponding future-oriented behavior?
Testing for relaiability, usability, and validity

Finding at least one other female household, a peer of the respondent in the same barangay with the same age group and similar level of education

  • recording of present mood (from being depressed to very good mood) and perceptions of respondent at the time of interview
  • Tests for reliability and validity requires administering the same questionnaire to the same respondents 3 weeks after the first interview (test-rest procedure, and with and without change of enumerator)
  • Anchoring issues with peer

Research study

Step 1: Correlations – an aspiration module was added to the CBMS questionnaire

Step 2: Measurement--An instrument was specifically designed to measure various dimensions of individual-level aspirations and aggregate them altogether.

Step 3: Treatment

Step 4: Experiment

Step 5: Replications


Baseline survey (Aspiration and CBMS)

  • Treatment
  • 3 types of treatment
    • Documentary
    • Placebo
    • Control
  • 2 levels of treatment
    • Village-level
    • Household-level

Follow-up survey ( ∆ Aspiration and ∆ CBMS)