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Women entrepreneurs in the informal economy need business engagements with other women (and men) that offer ‘spaces’ for dialogue to learn and build business capabilities. While formalization of entrepreneurial activity is favourable under some circumstances, it can be detrimental under others, necessitating a case-by-case evaluation. Many top-down actions for women’s empowerment in the informal sector are only effective in gender-neutral economic development programmes. In this Policy Brief, we argue that although policy interventions may be favourable, they are neither necessary nor sufficient for change, as successful women role models are often the best agents for sweeping change.