A common concern with efforts to directly help some small businesses to grow is that their growth comes at the expense of their unassisted competitors. This study tests this possibility using a two-stage randomized experiment in Kenya. The experiment randomizes business training at the market level, and then within markets to selected businesses. Three years after training, the treated businesses are selling more, earn higher profits, and their owners have higher well-being. There is no evidence of negative spillovers on the competing businesses, and the markets as a whole appear to have grown in terms of number of customers and sales volumes. This market growth appears to come from enhanced customer service and new product introduction, generating more customers and more sales from existing customers. As a result, business growth in underdeveloped markets is possible without taking sales away from nontreated businesses.
IPA Zambia is pleased to share with you its final bulletin of the year: "2016 in Review." This bulletin highlights ten of IPA Zambia's research projects, including updates from projects included in the previous bulletin as well as new contributions. We hope you enjoy this look at the high-quality evidence we've generated this past year, and we look forward to continuing this work with you in the year ahead.
Targeted interventions that sustainably improve the lives of the poor will be a critical component in eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. The poorest households tend to be physically and socially isolated and face disadvantages across multiple dimensions, which makes moving out of extreme poverty challenging and costly. This paper compares the cost-effectiveness of three strands of anti-poverty social protection interventions by reviewing 30 livelihood development programs, 11 lump-sum unconditional cash transfers, and seven graduation programs. All the selected graduation initiatives focused on the extreme poor, while the livelihood development and cash transfer programs targeted a broader set of beneficiaries. Impacts on annual household consumption (or on income when consumption data were not available) per dollar spent were used to benchmark cost-effectiveness across programs. Among all 48 programs reviewed, lump-sum cash transfers were found to have the highest benefit-cost ratio, though there are very few lump-sum cash transfer programs that serve the extreme poor or measure long-term impacts. Livelihood programs that targeted the extreme poor had much lower benefit-cost ratios. Graduation programs are more cost-effective than the livelihood programs that targeted the extreme poor and measured long-term impacts (i.e., at least one year after end of interventions). More evidence is needed, especially on long-term impacts of lump-sum cash transfers to the extreme poor, to make better comparisons among the three types of programs for sustainable reduction of extreme poverty.
A field experiment in Sri Lanka provided wage subsidies to randomly chosen microenterprises to test whether hiring additional labor benefits such firms, and whether a short-term subsidy can have a lasting impact on firm employment. Using 12 rounds of surveys to track dynamics four years after treatment, we find that firms increased employment during the subsidy period. Treated firms were more likely to survive, but there was no lasting impact on employment, and no effect on profitability or sales either during or after the subsidy period. There is some heterogeneity in effects; the subsidies have more durable effect on manufacturers.
Una capacitación financiera simplificada basada en reglas prácticas mejoró las prácticas de negocios y los resultados económicos de microempresarios en República Dominicana, mientras que una capacitación técnica basada en principios contables tradicionales no produjo impactos significativos.
El acceso a servicios nancieros es crucial para el crecimiento de la Pequeña y Mediana Empresa (PyME). Estos servicios permiten a los emprendedores innovar, incrementar su e ciencia, expandirse a nuevos mercados y crear nuevos puestos de trabajo. Sin embargo, la mayoría de las PyMEs en países en desarrollo son incapaces de conseguir el nanciamiento necesario para alcanzar su potencial. Proporcionar nanciamiento a las PyMEs en dichos países puede ser riesgoso y costoso para los prestamistas, lo que ha llevado a una brecha de crédito de aproximadamente un billón de dólares (IFC, 2011).
Para reducir la brecha de crédito, instituciones nancieras, gobiernos y donantes han invertido en una gran cantidad de programas y políticas orientadas a proporcionar a las PyMEs el nanciamiento necesario para crecer e innovar. No obstante, la e cacia de estos programas en reducir los obstáculos para el nanciamiento de las PyMEs no ha sido evaluada con rigor. El Programa PyME en Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) evalúa posibles soluciones y promueve las maneras más e cientes y económicas de expandir el acceso al nanciamiento de las PyMEs.
Read the English version here.
This paper identifies separate and unique pathways to profits among small businesses in South Africa that are exposed to marketing or finance training in a randomized control study. The marketing group achieves greater profits by adopting a growth focus on higher sales, greater investments in stock and materials, and hiring more employees. The finance group achieves similar profit gains but through an efficiency focus on lower costs. Both groups show significantly higher adoption of business practices related to their respective training program. Consistent with a growth focus, marketing/sales skills are significantly more beneficial to firm owners who ex ante have less exposure to different business contexts. In contrast and in line with an efficiency focus, entrepreneurs who have been running more established businesses prior to training benefit significantly more from finance/accounting skills.
Can innovation among micro-entrepreneurs in South Africa teach global corporations a lesson? Rajesh Chandy, Stephen Anderson-Macdonald and Bilal Zia reckon so.
Mass poverty is a huge world problem, typically addressed through multibillion aid programmes. But a grassroots research project in South Africa’s impoverished townships suggests another, sustainable solution. It isn’t the first study into the impact of skills training on microentrepreneurs in developing countries. But prior initiatives have tended to show that any benefits are small or short-lived. This project is remarkable because it is the first to demonstrate the opposite. “You can solve many of the problems of poverty and growth in the world by doing better business,” says LBS’s Rajesh Chandy, one of the three academics who devised the project. “Microentrepreneurs represent the most common type of business in the world. Yet we tend to ignore them – even though they are hiding in plain sight. If we can help them transform their business lives, then we will probably also transform the lives of their communities, given the prevalence of these kinds of businesses.” Not only that, but the lessons learnt that will inform policy in emerging economies such as those in southern Africa could also be applied in developed markets. “By studying the lives of business people many thousands of miles away, we might even learn a bit about ourselves,” says Chandy.
Loans and business management training helped men grow their small business profits, but women did not experience any impacts on their businesses as a result of loans, training, or grants.
Firms in the developing world exhibit much flatter life-cycle dynamics compared to firms in developed countries. This paper examines the role of demand constraints in limiting the growth of small and medium firms in Brazil. We test whether firms that win government procurement contracts grow more compared to firms that compete for these contracts but do not win. We assemble a comprehensive data set combining matched employer-employee data for the universe of formal firms in Brazil with the universe of federal government procurement contracts. Exploiting a quasi-experimental design, we find that winning at least one contract in a given quarter increases firm growth by 2.2 percentage points over that quarter, with 93% of the new hires coming from either unemployment or the informal sector. These effects also persist well beyond the length of the contracts. Part of this persistence comes from firms participating and wining more future auctions, as well as penetrating other markets.
Experimental tests of microcredit programs have consistently failed to find effects on business and household income. Does the current microfinance model and targeting of clients miss important effects from finance? I present results of a randomized experiment with microenterprise owners in Uganda that sought to expand access to finance for men and women who generally did not qualify for finance under normal circumstances with the goal of inceasing business profits and employment. Participants were offered either capital with repayment (subsidized loans) or without (grants) and were randomly chosen to receive or not receive business skills training in conjunction with the capital. Consistent with existing literature, I find no effect for female enterprises from either form of capital or the training. However, I find large effects for men with access to loans combined with training. There is no effect for men or women from the grants, suggesting repayment requirements can increase the likelihood of productive investment. I also find little evidence that investing capital and training in a few enterprises crowds out other businesses. The results indicate that cash-constrained male-owned enterprises—a sample that is not well targeted by microcredit organizations or researchers—can benefit from subsidized finance, and that this may have larger, positive income and employment growth effects for an economy.
Las PyMEs son las mayores creadoras de empleo a nivel mundial, proporcionando—en promedio—más del 66 por ciento de todos los trabajos. Además, se cree que las PyMEs impulsan la innovación, la movilidad social, y la productividad. Sin embargo, las empresas en los países en desarrollo crecen menos que aquellas en países desarrollados debido a los obstáculos que las primeras enfrentan. Entre estos obstáculos se encuentran el escaso acceso al financiamiento, bajos niveles de capital humano y el limitado acceso a mercados. Estas restricciones limitan la contribución del sector a la creación de empleos y al desarrollo económico, lo que ha llevado a gobiernos, organizaciones sin fines de lucro y organismos internacionales a destinar miles de millones de dólares cada año en programas orientados a superar estas barreras. Desafortunadamente, aún existe poca evidencia sobre la capacidad de estos programas para destapar el potencial de crecimiento de las PyMEs.
Read this brief in English here.
Financial access is critical for the growth of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). It allows entrepreneurs to innovate, improve efficiency, expand to new markets, and provide millions of jobs. Yet, in developing countries, the majority of SMEs are unable to acquire the financing they need to reach their potential. Financing SMEs in the developing world can be risky and expensive for lenders, leading to an estimated financing gap of one trillion USD (International Finance Corporation, 2011).
To reduce the credit gap, financial institutions, governments, and donors invest in lending products and policies designed to provide SMEs with the financing they need to grow and innovate. However, the extent to which such programs effectively reduce the barriers to SME financing has generally not been rigorously measured. The SME Program at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) rigorously evaluates potential solutions and promotes the most efficient and cost-effective ways to expand access to finance for SMEs.
Lea la version en español aquí.
We design a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the adoption of credit scoring with a bank that uses soft information in small businesses lending. We find that credit scores improve the productivity of credit committees, reduce managerial involvement in the loan approval process, and increase the profitability of lending. Credit committee members’ effort and output also increase when they anticipate the score becoming available, indicating that scores improve incentives to use existing information. Our results imply that credit scores improve the efficiency and decentralize decision-making in loan production, which has implications for the optimal organization of banks.