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Business Literacy and Development: Evidence From a Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural Mexico

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  • Gabriela Calderón
  • Jesse M. Cunha
  • Giacomo De Giorgi

Abstract

A large share of the poor in developing countries run small enterprises, often earning low incomes. This paper explores whether the poor performance of businesses can be explained by a lack of basic business skills. We randomized the offer of a free, 48-hour business skills course to female entrepreneurs in rural Mexico. We find that those assigned to treatment earn higher profits, have larger revenues, serve a greater number of clients, are more likely to use formal accounting techniques, and more likely to be registered with the government. Indirect treatment effects on those entrepreneurs randomized out of the program, yet living in treatment villages, are economically meaningful, yet imprecisely measured. We present a simple model of experience and learning that helps interpret our results, and consistent with the theoretical predictions, we find that “low-quality” entrepreneurs are the most likely to quit their business post-treatment, and that the positive impacts of the treatment are increasing in entrepreneurial quality.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 742.

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Date of creation: Dec 2013
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:742

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Keywords: business literacy; development; entrepreneurship;

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References

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  1. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2008. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1329-1372, November.
  2. Joseph P. Romano & Michael Wolf, 2003. "Stepwise multiple testing as formalized data snooping," Economics Working Papers 712, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2007. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," Discussion Papers 07-006, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  4. Nick Bloom, 2011. "Does management matter?: evidence from India," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 36391, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Robert W. Fairlie & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2012. "Behind the GATE Experiment: Evidence on Effects of and Rationales for Subsidized Entrepreneurship Training," NBER Working Papers 17804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dean Karlan & Ryan Knight & Christopher Udry, 2012. "Hoping to Win, Expected to Lose: Theory and Lessons on Micro Enterprise Development," Working Papers 1014, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  7. Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2007. "Teaching Entrepreneurship: Impact of Business Training on Microfinance Clients and Institutions," Working Papers 107, Center for Global Development.
  8. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Business training and female enterprise start-up, growth, and dynamics: Experimental evidence from Sri Lanka," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 199-210.
  9. Erica Field & Seema Jayachandran & Rohini Pande, 2010. "Do Traditional Institutions Constrain Female Entrepreneurship? A Field Experiment on Business Training in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 125-29, May.
  10. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2007. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," NBER Technical Working Papers 0344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. McKenzie, David, 2012. "Beyond baseline and follow-up: The case for more T in experiments," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 210-221.
  12. Bruhn, Miriam & Zia, Bilal, 2011. "Stimulating managerial capital in emerging markets : the impact of business and financial literacy for young entrepreneurs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5642, The World Bank.
  13. Manuela Angelucci & Giacomo De Giorgi, 2009. "Indirect Effects of an Aid Program: How Do Cash Transfers Affect Ineligibles' Consumption?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 486-508, March.
  14. David S. Lee, 2009. "Training, Wages, and Sample Selection: Estimating Sharp Bounds on Treatment Effects," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1071-1102.
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Cited by:
  1. Tetsushi Sonobe & Keijiro Otsuka, 2012. "The Role of Training in Fostering Cluster-Based MSE Development," GRIPS Discussion Papers 12-14, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
  2. Karlan, Dean & Knight, Ryan & Udry, Christopher, 2012. "Hoping to Win, Expected to Lose: Theory and Lessons on Micro Enterprise Development," Working Papers 105, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  3. Sonobe, Tetsushi & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2012. "The Role of Training in Fostering Cluster-Based Micro and Small Enterprises Development," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  4. Cho, Yoonyoung & Kalomba, Davie & Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq & Orozco, Victor, 2013. "Gender differences in the effects of vocational training : constraints on women and drop-out behavior," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6545, The World Bank.
  5. M. Arouri & A. Ben Youssef & Ceyhun Elgin, 2014. "Informal economy in Africa: Building human capital to set the Gazelles free," Working Papers 2014/04, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
  6. Nguimkeu, Pierre, 2014. "A structural econometric analysis of the informal sector heterogeneity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 175-191.
  7. Cho, Yoon Y. & Honorati, Maddalena, 2013. "Entrepreneurship Programs in Developing Countries: A Meta Regression Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 7333, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Miller, Margaret & Reichelstein, Julia & Salas, Christian & Zia, Bilal, 2014. "Can you help someone become financially capable ? a meta-analysis of the literature," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6745, The World Bank.
  9. Oriana Bandiera & Niklas Buehren & Robin Burgess & Markus Goldstein & Selim Gulesci & Imran Rasul & Munshi Sulaiman, 2014. "Women’s Empowerment in Action: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Africa," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 50, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.

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