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Study shows the power of entrepreneurship training programs for women, minorities

An Ivey-led study found there was ‘an increase in the likelihood that minorities subsequently pursue entrepreneurial activity,’ particularly in the technology sector, following participation in the program.

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Entrepreneurship programs have a more profound and long-term benefit for women and minorities than Caucasian men, according to research conducted by Laurina Zhang, assistant professor at the University of Western Ontario's Ivey Business School.

Dr. Zhang's study, Creating Entrepreneurs: The Impact of Entrepreneurship Programs on Minorities, will appear in the May of 2017 edition of American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings. She and co-author Elizabeth Lyons, an assistant professor at University of California, San Diego, followed 335 undergrad students in North America who went through an entrepreneurship training program between 2011 and 2015.

Their report found there was "an increase in the likelihood that minorities subsequently pursue entrepreneurial activity," particularly in the technology sector, following participation in the program.

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The increase applies in both the short and long term, with a 23-percentage-point difference noted in the short term alone.

It comes down to access to resources such as mentorship and capital that these subgroups would otherwise struggle to acquire, explains Dr. Zhang.

"What we're showing is that for a particular group of people [minorities and women], the benefits provided by the program are very important and difficult to access in the absence of the program," she says.

"Whereas for the other group [Caucasian males], while the program can expedite the time it takes for them to gain access to these things, like networks, mentorship and capital, they would eventually be able to capture them, even without the program."

The hope is that this research could affect future policy regarding government support and funding of incubators and accelerators.

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