The returns to cash and microenterprise support among the ultra-poor: A field experiment
Last registered on May 10, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The returns to cash and microenterprise support among the ultra-poor: A field experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001225
Initial registration date
May 10, 2016
Last updated
May 10, 2016 5:59 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Chicago
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Duke University
PI Affiliation
Internal Rescue Committee
PI Affiliation
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Office of Research
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2009-02-01
End date
2012-08-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Do the “ultra-poor” have high returns to capital or are they otherwise constrained? Impoverished Ugandans, mostly women, were experimentally offered individual business training, $150, supervision, and business advising. We evaluated the full package plus the marginal effects of components: supervision (pressure to invest); advice; and stronger social networks (via group formation). 16 months later, microenterprise ownership and incomes double. Supervision and advice weakly increase initial investment but have little long-run impact. Group formation raised earnings through cooperative activities, suggesting social capital is an important input. Overall, the economic returns to cash appear high. We see little effect, however, on empowerment.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Annan, Jeannie et al. 2016. "The returns to cash and microenterprise support among the ultra-poor: A field experiment." AEA RCT Registry. May 10. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1225/history/8150
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The intervention was targeted to poor villages in post-conflict northern Uganda. The program sought to understand the financial and social impacts of (1) a combined package of a $150 grant, skills training, group-formation and follow-up visits and (ii) the marginal effects of group-formation and follow-up visits. The NGO selected 15 of the poorest people in a given village for the program. 86% of program participants were women.
Intervention Start Date
2009-06-01
Intervention End Date
2012-06-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Employment
2) Income
3) Group formation
4) Women’s empowerment
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1) Employment: participation in income generating activities
2) Income: change in consumption, cash earnings, durable and non-durable assets
3) Group formation: whether member of a group, how many time group meets, purpose of group
4) Women’s empowerment: measured by autonomy (control over finances and physical and emotional abuse); household decision making, expenditures and assets; and social and community participation and status.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The experiment uses a randomized waitlist design to mitigate concerns about measuring but not assisting the poor. After a baseline survey of 1800 respondents, a public lottery was conducted where village elders drew village names from a basket to assign them to either Phase 1 or Phase 2.

Phase 1 (60 villages): half the sample received the $150 cash grant, skills training and follow-up while the other half received the same core program but also group dynamics training. This allows researchers to understand (i) the impact of the grant, skills training, follow-up, and group formation relative to the (control) Phase 2 villages which still hadn’t received the program and (ii) the marginal impact of group formation.

Phase 2 (60 villages): one third received $150 cash grant and training, one-third received the grant, training and one/two follow up visits while the remaining third received the grant, training and three/five follow up visits. This allowed researchers to understand the marginal impact of follow-up.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
There were three randomizations:
1) Villages were assigned to Phase 1 or Phase 2 by drawing village names out of a basket in public.
2) Phase 1 villages were randomized by a computer to receive group dynamics training.
3) Phase 2 villages were randomized by a computer at the individual level, blocking by village, to receive no follow-up visit, one/two follow-up visits, or three/five follow-up visits.
Randomization Unit
Village and individual.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
120 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
1800 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Phase 1=60 villages, 896 individuals
Grant, training, follow-up only = 30 villages
Grant, training, follow-up + group dynamics training = 30 villages

Phase 2 = 60 villages, 904 individuals
Grant and training only, no follow-up = 318 individuals
Grant and training + 1/2 follow-up visits = 300 individuals
Grant and training + 3/5 follow-up visits = 286 individuals
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Uganda National Council for Science and Technology
IRB Approval Date
2009-03-13
IRB Approval Number
SS2197
IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action
IRB Approval Date
2009-02-01
IRB Approval Number
09February-001
IRB Name
Yale University
IRB Approval Date
2009-04-21
IRB Approval Number
0902004770
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
June 30, 2012, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
August 31, 2012, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
120 villages
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1729 individuals
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Phase 1 = 861 individuals Phase 2 = 868 individuals
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
THE RETURNS TO CASH AND MICROENTERPRISE SUPPORT AMONG THE ULTRA-POOR: A FIELD EXPERIMENT

Do the “ultra-poor” have high returns to capital or are they otherwise constrained? Impoverished Ugandans, mostly women, were experimentally offered individual business training, $150, supervision, and business advising. We evaluated the full package plus the marginal effects of components: supervision (pressure to invest); advice; and stronger social networks (via group formation). 16 months later, microenterprise ownership and incomes double. Supervision and advice weakly increase initial investment but have little long-run impact. Group formation raised earnings through cooperative activities, suggesting social capital is an important input. Overall, the economic returns to cash appear high. We see little effect, however, on empowerment.
Citation
Annan, Jeannie, Christopher Blattman, Eric Green, Julian Jamison, and M. Christian Lehmann. "The Returns to Microenterprise Support Among the Ultra-Poor: A Field Experiment in Post-War Uganda," NBER Working Paper No. 21310, June 2015.