Teaching Entrepreneurship: Impact of Business Training on Microfinance Clients and Institutions
Can one teach basic entrepreneurship skills, or are they fixed personal characteristics? Most academic and development policy discussions about microentrepreneurs focus on their access to credit, and assume their human capital to be fixed. The self-employed poor rarely have any formal training in business skills. However, a growing number of microfinance organizations are attempting to build the human capital of micro-entrepreneurs in order to improve the livelihood of their clients and help further their mission of poverty alleviation. Using a randomized control trial, we measure the marginal impact of adding business training to a Peruvian group lending program for female microentrepreneurs. Treatment groups received thirty to sixty minute entrepreneurship training sessions during their normal weekly or monthly banking meeting over a period of one to two years. Control groups remained as they were before, meeting at the same frequency but solely for making loan and savings payments. We find that the treatment led to improved business knowledge, practices and revenues. The program also improved repayment and client retention rates for the microfinance institution. Larger effects found for those that expressed less interest in training in a baseline survey. This has important implications for implementing similar market-based interventions with a goal of recovering costs.
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