This project works with aspiring micro-entrepreneurs from vulnerable host and refugee groups in Nairobi, Kenya, and with more established Kenyan entrepreneurs recruited as mentors for these aspiring micro-entrepreneurs. This project’s interventions offer capital support to the aspiring micro-entrepreneurs, and for a random subsample, a mentoring program. The mentoring program aims to improve economic outcomes, but also social outcomes–the mentee’s confidence, social attitudes, and well-being. For the mentor-mentee combinations featuring mixed gender or refugee-host mentor-mentee pairings, we also test for social cohesion improvement–increased economic interactions across identity groups outside of the mentorship context, and improved attitudes toward refugees and women, and toward policies aimed at improving those groups’ welfare.
Previous laboratory and field experiments suggest that perspective-sharing, i.e. hearing directly from the other about their perspective and experience, leads to improved attitudes toward and increased support for policies related to minoritized populations. The mentoring intervention uses this psychological insight and is randomly administered to half of the mentoring pairs. We examine any added effect of perspective-sharing informed mentorship in business mentorship pairs on economic, psychological, and social cohesion outcomes.
First, we construct cohorts based on geographical proximity. Then, by cohort, stratifying on gender and country of origin, we randomly assign aspiring micro-entrepreneurs to one of four research arms: (i) a control group, which will receive treatment after completion of the study; (ii) business grant only; (iii) business grant and mentorship; (iv) business grant and mentorship with perspective-sharing. Participants in the active treatment arms receive a business grant one month after the start of the program. Participants in the mentorship treatment arms engage in nine pairwise meetings between aspiring and more established micro-entrepreneurs over the course of two and a half months. These meetings are centered around either just economic/business content or economic/business content and perspective-sharing, i.e. building a shared understanding of one another's experiences and circumstances, between the mentor and the mentee. We examine whether mentorship acts as a complement to the business grant, thereby improving economic and psychological outcomes, and whether these effects are more pronounced for those in the perspective-sharing informed mentorship research arm.
Taking into consideration geographical proximity, gender, and industry of interest, aspiring micro-entrepreneurs in groups (iii) and (iv) are randomly matched with eligible mentors.
By cohort, stratifying on gender, recruited mentors are similarly randomly assigned to one of three research arms: (i) control; (ii) mentorship; and, (iii) mentorship with perspective-sharing. We then randomly specify aligned vs. misaligned nationality/residency status mentee matches for mentors assigned to groups (ii) and (iii). For mentors, we examine whether perspective-sharing fosters greater interpersonal cohesion and whether this translates into improved social and political attitudes towards refugees and women for misaligned matches. We further examine whether misaligned matches play a role in expanding and diversifying the mentors’ business interactions and networks. Across both populations, we measure outcomes 1, 3, 6, and 9 months after the first meeting.