Researchers at the University of Oxford are investigating a scheme aimed at empowering women.

American retail giant Walmart has hired them to examine its Empowering Women Together scheme, which it launched internationally in 2011 to boost female-ran businesses.

The independant study is being conducted by Professor Linda Scott of the Said Business School on Park End Street.

She said: “There has been a growing realisation that increasing women’s incomes has profound positive effects on national competitiveness.

“I have been impressed so far by the determination of the team at Walmart and employees in women’s businesses to make it work.

“The obstacles are great, but the goal is worth the effort.”

The team will publish two case studies publically later this year on a business in Denver, USA, and another in Nairobi, Kenya.