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Can Microfinance Unlock a Poverty Trap for Some Entrepreneurs?

Author

Listed:
  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Emily Breza
  • Esther Duflo
  • Cynthia Kinnan

Abstract

Can microcredit help unlock a poverty trap for some people by putting their businesses on a different trajectory? Could the small microcredit treatment effects often found for the average household mask important heterogeneity? In Hyderabad, India, we find that “gung ho entrepreneurs” (GEs), households who were already running a business before microfinance entered, show persistent benefits that increase over time. Six years later, the treated GEs own businesses that have 35% more assets and generate double the revenues as those in control neighborhoods. We find almost no effects on non-GE households. A model of technology choice in which talented entrepreneurs can access either a diminishing-returns technology, or a more productive technology with a fixed cost, generates dynamics matching the data. These results show that heterogeneity in entrepreneurial ability is important and persistent. For talented but low-wealth entrepreneurs, short-term access to credit can indeed facilitate escape from a poverty trap.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Emily Breza & Esther Duflo & Cynthia Kinnan, 2019. "Can Microfinance Unlock a Poverty Trap for Some Entrepreneurs?," NBER Working Papers 26346, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26346
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    JEL classification:

    • D25 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice: Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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