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Identifying and spurring high-growth entrepreneurship : experimental evidence from a business plan competition

Listed author(s):
  • Mckenzie,David J.

Almost all firms in developing countries have fewer than 10 workers, with the modal firm consisting of just the owner. Are there potential high-growth entrepreneurs with the ability to grow their firms beyond this size? And, if so, can public policy help alleviate the constraints that prevent these entrepreneurs from doing so? A large-scale national business plan competition in Nigeria is used to help provide evidence on these two questions. The competition was launched with much fanfare, and attracted almost 24,000 entrants. Random assignment was used to select some of the winners from a pool of semi-finalists, with US$36 million in randomly allocated grant funding providing each winner with an average of almost US$50,000. Surveys tracking applicants over three years show that winning the business plan competition leads to greater firm entry, higher survival of existing businesses, higher profits and sales, and higher employment, including increases of over 20 percentage points in the likelihood of a firm having 10 or more workers. These effects appear to occur largely through the grants enabling firms to purchase more capital and hire more labor.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 7391.

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Date of creation: 12 Aug 2015
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:7391
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  1. 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.
  2. Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2011. "Teaching Entrepreneurship: Impact of Business Training on Microfinance Clients and Institutions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 510-527, May.
  3. Magnus Henrekson & Dan Johansson, 2010. "Gazelles as job creators: a survey and interpretation of the evidence," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 227-244, September.
  4. Alejandro Drexler & Greg Fischer & Antoinette Schoar, 2014. "Keeping It Simple: Financial Literacy and Rules of Thumb," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 1-31, April.
  5. Grimm, Michael & Paffhausen, Anna Luisa, 2015. "Do interventions targeted at micro-entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized firms create jobs? A systematic review of the evidence for low and middle income countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 67-85.
  6. Luc Behaghel & Bruno Crépon & Marc Gurgand & Thomas Le Barbanchon, 2015. "Please Call Again: Correcting Nonresponse Bias in Treatment Effect Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1070-1080, December.
  7. Bruhn, Miriam & Karlan, Dean S. & Schoar, Antoinette S, 2012. "The Impact of Consulting Services on Small and Medium Enterprises: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Mexico," CEPR Discussion Papers 8887, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Martina Lawless, 2014. "Age or size? Contributions to job creation," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(4), pages 815-830, April.
  9. repec:oup:qjecon:v:129:y:2014:i:2:p:697-752. is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2014. "The Life Cycle of Plants in India and Mexico," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1035-1084.
  11. David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2015. "Business Practices in Small Firms in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 21505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2014. "What Are We Learning from Business Training and Entrepreneurship Evaluations around the Developing World?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 29(1), pages 48-82.
  13. Fafchamps, Marcel & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Identifying gazelles: expert panels vs. surveys as a means to identify firms with rapid growth potential," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 213, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  14. Miriam Bruhn & David McKenzie, 2014. "Entry Regulation and the Formalization of Microenterprises in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 186-201.
  15. 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.
  16. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2009. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 423-423.
  17. Orazio Attanasio & Adriana Kugler & Costas Meghir, 2011. "Subsidizing Vocational Training for Disadvantaged Youth in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 188-220, July.
  18. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Microenterprise growth and the flypaper effect: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 211-226.
  19. Christopher Blattman & Nathan Fiala & Sebastian Martinez, 2014. "Generating Skilled Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 697-752.
  20. Elkan, Walter, 1988. "Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship in Africa," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 3(2), pages 171-188, July.
  21. John Haltiwanger & Ron S. Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2013. "Who Creates Jobs? Small versus Large versus Young," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 347-361, May.
  22. Klinger, Bailey & Schündeln, Matthias, 2011. "Can Entrepreneurial Activity be Taught? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Central America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 1592-1610, September.
  23. 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.
  24. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Benjamin A. Olken, 2014. "The Missing "Missing Middle"," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 89-108, Summer.
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