The study is composed of two randomized experiments with different designs. Randomization into treatment and control will be done by the research team, in coordination with the implementer, and it will occur after the completion of the baseline survey.
We randomize at the village level, which contains one or more Savings and Loan Group (SLG) cluster. Each cluster typitcally comprises two SLGs. Villages in our two evaluation districts of Malawi, Dedza and Nkhatabay, will be randomized into one of three treatment groups and one control group. Households and individuals in treatment villages will be eligible for all intervention activities, depending on the specific intervention and their eligibility to receive the specific intervention. Households and individuals in control clusters will receive only basic services from the implementing partner while the evaluation is ongoing, which are a uniform entry point intervention for all beneficiaries. Once the evaluation is complete, clusters in the control group will receive the program as well pending their eligibility assessment and program targets. To be more specific, there will be four treatment arms (T1, T2, T3 and T4) for this experiment as follows:
• T1: those accessing only the basic.
• T2: those accessing only the enhanced package (bundled group skills training).
• T3: those accessing only graduation packages (coaching, household assets and training).
• T4: those accessing both the enhanced and graduation package.
The targeted number of study households is 6,000, though only 3,300 will be interviewed at baseline due to time constraints.
This experiment measures the impact of the Youth Skills Challenge (YSC) program, which provides training and assets to help youths establish livelihoods. Within the two experiment 1 districts (Nkhatabay and Dedza) and three other districts (Lilongwe, Rumphi and Nkhotakota), interested youth who are a member of SLGs receiving the enhanced package can apply for YSC. These applications will be scored, and the study sample will comprise twice the number of slots. We will randomize youth at the individual level into a treatment group that receives support, and a control group that does not.
The aim is to enhance youth skills, entrepreneurship skills, empowerment, employment, and earnings, for the treated. A total of 328 slots are available, hereby the experiment will include 700 youth, of which a maximum of 328 (out of 350 assigned to the treatment group) receive the program while a maximum of 350 (out of 350 assigned to the control group) do not.