Firm Surveys for Comparing Personal Initiative Training to Traditional Business Training 2013-2016
Standard business training programs aim to boost the incomes of the millions of self-employed business owners in developing countries by teaching basic financial and marketing practices, yet the impacts of such programs are mixed. We test whether a psychology-based personal initiative training approach which teaches and promotes a proactive mindset that focuses on entrepreneurial behaviors can have more success. A randomized controlled trial in Togo assigned microenterprise owners to a control group (N=500); a leading business training program (N=500); or to personal initiative training (N=500). Four follow-up surveys track firm outcomes over two years and show personal initiative training increases firm profits by 31 percent, compared to a statistically insignificant 11 percent for traditional training. The training is cost-effective, paying for itself within one year.
Kind of data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of analysis
Informal sector firms which applied to a government business training program. See sampling for more information.
Producers and sponsors
National University of Singapore, Singapore
Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Germany
Institute of Labor Economics
The training forms one component of the Private Sector Development Support Project, a $13 million lending operation from the International Development Association of the World Bank to the Government of Togo. The project launched a four-month communication campaign in Lomé to generate applicants for the program. This involved radio and television advertisements; banners; distributing more than 9,000 flyers; 138 information events partnering with three microfinance institutions, an association of female entrepreneurs, a government agency that works with the informal sector, an artisan's association and the Chambre Régionale des Métiers-Lomé (Regional Chamber of Artisans); and door-to-door communication to firms in 89 different neighborhoods.
At the end of this campaign, the project had received 3,396 applications, of which 3,220 met the eligibility criteria which entrepreneurs had been informed about during the communication campaign. As mentioned in the main text, to be eligible firms had to have fewer than 50 employees, not be formally registered at the Chambre de Commerce et de l'Industrie du Togo (Chamber of Commerce) or the Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (Business Formality Center), be in any sector apart from agricultural production, husbandry or fishing, and be in existence for 12 months or more.
The eligible applicants were then grouped into 47 distinct strata based on sector of activity and sales range, with equal numbers of companies then randomly chosen from each strata. This weighted the sample in favor of firms with higher sales and those in smaller sectors, while still ensuring representation from across the informal sector. In total 1,794 eligible companies were selected through this process to undergo a baseline survey, with the goal of surveying 1,500. As such, firms that were no longer interested or could not be found would be dropped.
Control group response rate was 94% in follow-up 1, 90% in follow-up 2, 91% in follow-up 3, and 88% in follow-up 4. Follow-up response rates for the two treatment groups are similar.
Dates of collection
Mode of data collection
Questionnaires in French and English were used to collect the data.
Data have been anonymized by removing personal identifying information of the businesses.
Public access for research purposes only.
Campos, Francisco, Michael Frese, Markus Goldstein, Leonardo Iacovone, Hillary Johnson, David Mckenzie and Mona Mensmann (2017) "Teaching personal initiative beats traditional business training in boosting small business in West Africa"
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.