Original abstracts from the papers in the database are provided below. All abstracts are drawn directly from the papers referenced. Links to access the papers are provided, although
the papers may also be available from other web sources. By providing links to other sites, the United Nations Foundation and ExxonMobil Foundation do not guarantee, approve, or endorse the information or products available on these sites.

  • Do Traditional Institutions Constrain Female Entrepreneurship? A Field Experiment on Business Training in India

    Field, Jayachandran and Pande (2010)

    Intervention settings: Urban

    Intervention description: Training in business skills and identifying financial goals: A streamlined two-day version of SEWA Bank's financial literacy and business skills curricula, and added material on financial goals and business aspirations.

    Methodology: RCT

    Sample: 597 poor, self-employed women. Homogenous in socio-economic status (education) but differing in religion and caste (Muslims, upper caste Hindus and scheduled caste hindus, each facing different mobility and social constraints).

    Findings: Among upper caste Hindu women (more socially constrained than lower caste), training increased borrowing (13 percentage points, nearly twice the rate of controls) and business income (about 30%), and likelihood of engaging in labor market activity (25%). Muslim women, who face most restrictions, failed to benefit from the training program.

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  • Training or Technical Assistance? A Field Experiment to Learn What Works to Increase Managerial Capital for Female Microenterpreneurs

    Valdivia (2011)

    Original abstract:

    This study evaluates the impacts of a business training program serving female microentrepreneurs in Lima that have previously benefited with the titling of their urban parcels. The intervention included personal development, business management and productive skills, aiming at empowering women so that they improve the control of their lives, their access to credit, their business practices, which in turn would increase the income and welfare of their families. 1983 eligible women were randomly allocated to treatment (2) and control groups. Women in the two treatment groups (1416) were offered business training in 36 three-hour sessions over approximately 12 weeks (regular training). In addition, half of them were offered an individualized support in the form of technical assistance (TA) over a period of three extra months. A baseline survey was applied before randomization and a follow-up survey about four months after the end of the treatment (about 12 months since the beginning of treatment). We find that women assigned to treatment indeed made some important adjustments in their business practices according to the training, although they differ depending on the type of treatment received. Those that received only regular training were more prone to close losing businesses. In turn, those that also received TA, were more prone to plan and execute innovations, as well as to increase their association with business peers and its use of informal credit sources. Furthermore, such innovations led to an increase in sales of at least 18%. These results have a clear policy implication: transmitting general good business practices may be cheaper and more scalable, but we need to include specific advice to help female microentrepreneurs grow. Both, business income and practices effects accrue among those with relatively larger businesses, suggesting the existence of a threshold above which this kind of business training can help. Lack of strong effects on the participation of women in key decisions and attitudes towards gender relations suggest the need to strengthen the personal development module, but such adjustment needs to take into account that time is a scarce resource for female microentrepreneurs as they need to share their time between their businesses and their traditional responsibilities with household chores.

    Intervention settings: Urban.

    Intervention description: Women in two treatment groups offered business training in 36 three-hour sessions over 12 weeks. Half of them were additionally offered individualized technical assistance over an extra three months. Training covered personal development, business management and productive skills.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 1,983 female microentrepreurs.

    Findings: Women assigned to treatment made adjustments in business practices according to their training. Those that received only regular training were more prone to close losing businesses. Those that also received TA were more prone to plan and execute innovations and to increase use of business peers and informal credit sources. Innovations led to increase in sales of 18%.

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  • The Impact of Consulting Services on Small and Medium Enterprises: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Mexico

    Bruhn, Karlan, and Schoar (2012)

    Original abstract:

    We test whether managerial human capital has a first order effect on the performance and growth of small enterprises in emerging markets. In a randomized control trial in Puebla, Mexico, we randomly assigned 150 out of 432 small and medium size enterprises to receive subsidized consulting services, while the remaining 267 enterprises served as a control group that did not receive any subsidized training. Treatment enterprises were matched with one of nine local consulting firms and met with their consultants once a week for four hours over a one year period. Results from a follow_up survey, conducted after the intervention, show that the consulting services had a large impact on the performance of the enterprises in the treatment group: monthly sales went up by about 80 percent; similarly, profits and productivity increased by 120 percent compared to the control group. We also see a significant increase in the entrepreneurial spirit index for the treatment group, a set of questions designed to illicit the SME owners' confidence in their ability to manage their business and deal with any future difficulties. However, we do not find any significant increase in the number of workers employed in the treatment group.

    Intervention settings: Urban.

    Intervention description: Consulting services.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 432 small and medium enterprises (30% women decision-makers) with average of 14 full-time employees. Firms existed on average 10 years.

    Findings: Increase in monthly sales by 80%. Profits and productivity increase by 120%. Significant increase in entrepreneurial spirit index (confidence in ability to manage business and deal with future difficulties). No signficant increase in number of workers employed.

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  • Group Versus Individual Liability: Short and Long-term Evidence from Philippine Microcredit Lending Groups

    Gine and Karlan (2011)

    Original abstract:

    Group liability in microcredit purports to improve repayment rates through peer screening, monitoring, and enforcement. However, it may create excessive pressure, and discourage reliable clients from borrowing. Two randomized trials tested the overall effect, as well as specific mechanisms. The first removed group liability from pre-existing groups and the second randomly assigned villages to either group or individual liability loans. In both, groups still held weekly meetings. We find no increase in short-run or long-run default and larger groups after three years in pre-existing areas, and no change in default but fewer groups created after two years in the expansion areas.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Compares impact of individual and group liability credit, and group and individual savings models. Group (group solidarity) and individual-liability credit for business expansion provided by a rural bank. Mandatory savings for group liability loans; voluntary individual savings accounts. Initial loan $18 to $90.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 100% female microcredit and savings clients.

    Findings: Conversion from group to individual liability did not negatively affect loan repayment rates. Individual loans (with no savings requirement) resulted in lower voluntary savings levels. Individual liability loans attracted more new clients.

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  • Remembering to Pay? Reminders vs. Financial Incentives for Loan Payments

    Cadena, Ximena and Antoinette Schoar (2011)

    Original abstract:

    We report the results from a field experiment with a micro lender in Uganda to test the effectiveness of privately implemented incentives for loan repayment. Using a randomized control trial we measure the impact of three different treatments: Borrowers are either given a lump sum cash reward upon completion of the loan (equivalent to a 25% interest rate reduction on the current loan), a 25% reduction of the interest rate in the next loan the borrower takes from the bank, or a monthly text message reminder before the loan payment is due (SMS). We find that on average the size of the treatment effect is similar across all the treatment groups: borrowers in the treatment groups have a 7-9% increase in the probability of paying on time and the average days late drop by 2 days a month. The results suggest that simple text messages which help borrowers to better manage their repayment dates have similar effects as large changes in the cost of capital of 25% of interest. The impact of the cash back incentives are stronger for customers with smaller loans and less banking experience, the reduced future interest rate seemed to be most effective for customers with larger loans, while the SMS text messages were particularly effective for younger customers.

    Intervention settings:

    Intervention description: Text message reminders to save. Messages were delivered three days prior to the repayment deadline and the messages were in the language of choice by the client (either in English, Luganda or in symbols).

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Individual loan customers who provided collateral worth 80% of the size of the loan. 35% of sample female.

    Findings: The text message strategy increased the probability of perfect repayment by 9 points on average. This impact was statistically significant and larger in magnitude than either of the other incentive schemes. The impact of the cash back incentives are stronger for customers with smaller loans and less banking experience. The reduced future interest rate seemed to be most effective for customers with larger loans. The SMS text messages were particularly effective for younger customers.

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