Western Balkans Investment Readiness Surveys 2015-2018
Innovative firms with good ideas may still struggle to fine-tune them to the stage where they can attract outside funding. We conduct a five-country randomized experiment that tests the impact of an investment readiness program. Firms then pitched their ideas to independent judges. The program resulted in a 0.3 standard deviation increase in the investment readiness score. Two years later, the average impacts on firm investment outcomes are positive, but small in magnitude, and not statistically significant. Larger and statistically significant impacts on receiving outside funding occur for smaller firms, and for firms with lower likelihoods of otherwise being funded.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Firms which entered the investment readiness program were drawn from Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia
Firms which applied to the investment readiness program
Producers and sponsors
Ana Paula Cusolito
European Central Bank
World Bank i2i Trust Fund
To participate in the program, a firm had to be legally registered in at least one of the five countries: Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro or Serbia. The firm had to be a micro, small, or medium-enterprise, defined as having fewer than 250 employees, and an annual turnover below 50 million euros. It had to be innovative, meaning that “it will in the foreseeable future develop products, services, or processes which are new or substantially improved compared to the state of the art in its industry, and which carry a risk of technological or industrial failure”, and could not be on a sanctions list or operating in a set of negative activities (e.g. gambling or alcohol production).
Applicants had to apply online, with the data from this application form providing the baseline data for this study. More than 1,200 applications were started online, and a total of 584 full applications were received. These were screened for eligibility, resulting in 346 firms being selected as eligible for the program.
Our main outcomes come from two rounds of follow-up surveys, in which we attempted to interview all firms, not only those who had participated in the pitch competition. The first round, intended to measure short-term effects, was taken between April and August 2016, corresponding to a period of approximately six months after the end of the investment readiness program and judging. The overall survey response rate was 79.2 percent, and does not differ significantly between treatment (79.9%) and control (78.5%). In addition, we collected information on operating status, number of employees, and whether negotiations for an outside investment had occurred for a further 12 percent of firms , resulting in basic data being available for 92.2 percent of firms.
The second follow-up survey took place between August 2017 and March 2018, corresponding to an average of two years since the intervention. The overall survey response rate for this second follow-up was 85.0 percent, and again does not differ significantly between treatment (86.2%) and control (83.7%), with data on firm operating status and receipt of equity available for 94.5% of firms.
Dates of Data Collection
Judges score firms
Data Collection Mode
Computer Assisted Personal Interview [capi]
The questionnaires for the Western Balkans Investment Readiness Surveys were organized as follows:
- Application Form : Pioneers of the Balkans
- Pioneers of the Balkans - Follow-up survey (spring 2016)
- World Bank "Pioneers of the Balkans" - Follow-up Survey 2017
Identifying information has been anonymized or removed.
Public access for research purposes only.
Cusolito, Ana, Ernest Dautovic and David McKenzie (2019) Western Balkans Investment Readiness Surveys and Replication Code 2015-2018. Ref: ECA_2015-2018_WBIRS_v01_M. World Bank. Downloaded from [url] on [date].