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

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  • Gabriela Calderon
  • 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 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19740.

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Date of creation: Dec 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19740

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References

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  1. Chang, Tai Hsieh & Peter, J- Klenow, 2007. "Misallocation and manufacturing TFP in China and India," MPRA Paper 35084, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Jun 2007.
  2. 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.
  3. Karlan, Dean S. & Knight, Ryan & Udry, Christopher, 2012. "Hoping to Win, Expected to Lose: Theory and Lessons on Micro Enterprise Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 9100, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Nicholas Bloom & David McKenzie, 2010. "Does Management Matter? Evidence From India," Discussion Papers 10-014, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  8. 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.
  9. McKenzie, David, 2011. "Beyond baseline and follow-up : the case for more t in experiments," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5639, The World Bank.
  10. 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.
  11. Fairlie, Robert W & Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2012. "Behind the GATE Experiment: Evidence on Effects of and Rationales for Subsidized Entrepreneurship Training," CEPR Discussion Papers 8823, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2007. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2934, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2006. "Teaching entrepreneurship: Impact of business training on microfinance clients and institutions," Natural Field Experiments 00282, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Dean Karlan, Ryan Knight, and Christopher Udry, 2012. "Hoping to Win, Expected to Lose: Theory and Lessons on Microenterprise Development," Working Papers 312, Center for Global Development.
  2. Gine, Xavier & Mansuri, Ghazala, 2014. "Money or ideas ? a field experiment on constraints to entrepreneurship in rural Pakistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6959, The World Bank.
  3. 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.
  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. 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.
  7. Cho, Yoonyoung & Honorati, Maddalena, 2013. "Entrepreneurship programs in developing countries : a meta regression analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6402, The World Bank.
  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. Nguimkeu, Pierre, 2014. "A structural econometric analysis of the informal sector heterogeneity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 175-191.
  10. 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).

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