The Entrepreneurship and Private Sector Development (EPSD) Program (formerly the Small & Medium Enterprise, or SME, Program) was founded by Dean Karlan (Northwestern University) and Antoinette Schoar (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 2011. Over the last decade, the Program has been at the forefront of the evidence generation efforts to understand what works to support entrepreneurship and SME development in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We have developed and engaged a strong network of innovative and influential researchers and partnered with key decision-makers around the world to address some of the most important challenges faced by businesses and entrepreneurs in their path to growth.

Since the beginning of the Program our research agenda has focused on three main constraints that prevent businesses in developing countries from growing and creating jobs: limited access to finance, low levels of human capital, and inefficient markets. In the last couple of years, we have expanded this to cross-cutting themes of high policy relevance in the current context: women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment, innovation and technology adoption, and environmental sustainability.

Academic Advisory Board

Our Academic Advisory Board is a group of leading researchers whose work is aligned with our priority research areas. They provide academic leadership and bring in diverse perspectives and expertise in various research areas, as well as make contributions across four key areas: program management, research, outreach and dissemination, and fundraising.