Creating employment for the poor via technology transfers: Experimental evidence on a solar microenterprise program
Last registered on October 10, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Creating employment for the poor via technology transfers: Experimental evidence on a solar microenterprise program
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003242
Initial registration date
August 17, 2018
Last updated
October 10, 2018 9:19 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Cape Town, School of Economics. Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU).
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Universidad del Pacifico
PI Affiliation
University of Cape Town
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2016-09-09
End date
2019-06-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Despite progress, the number of Sub-Saharan Africans living in extreme poverty continues to rise: the continent contains the largest concentration of extreme poor in the world at almost 400 million. This is associated with severe consequences for human welfare. As an example, chronic malnutrition in children under five is 39%. Furthermore, 600 million live without electricity in Africa and this is expected to rise given grid expansion is not predicted to keep pace with population growth. This too has dire consequences: almost 6 million children under 5 die each year from preventable diseases, the main cause being respiratory infections, and smoke from traditional lighting sources has been found to be a key risk factor. Finally, climate change continues unabated and strategies to provide modern energy without raising emissions are more important than ever.

We evaluate a new low-cost program designed to help address these challenges. It aims to create employment in East Africa through technology transfers to both increase incomes and distribute renewable lighting to the rural poor. The program provides groups of individuals with solar panels and lights in order to form village microenterprises which sell lights and provide light and phone charging to their communities. This is an innovative approach because it potentially creates a sustainable source of income, lowers the operating costs per light, and is also a natural pay-as-you-go model in that payments are directly related to use. The for-profit social program has rolled out to over 1500 villages in rural Rwanda.

Here we study the formation of 272 new microenterprises consisting of 4 individuals each in 272 villages. 136 villages were randomly assigned to treatment and 136 to control. We collect data on a sample of 5000 people from 1088 entrepreneur households.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Barron, Manuel, Rowan Philip Clarke and Martine Visser. 2018. "Creating employment for the poor via technology transfers: Experimental evidence on a solar microenterprise program." AEA RCT Registry. October 10. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3242/history/35576
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The program provides groups of individuals with solar panels and lights in order to form village microenterprises which sell lights and provide light and phone charging to their communities. The aim is to both generate employment and distribute renewable lighting to the rural poor in East Africa.
Intervention Start Date
2016-12-01
Intervention End Date
2019-06-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Labor income, labor supply and employment, consumption and expenditure, happiness and life satisfaction
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We study the formation of 272 new microenterprises consisting of 4 individuals each in 272 villages. 136 villages were randomly assigned to treatment and 136 to control. A sample of over 2000 people were surveyed from 1088 entrepreneur households.

We survey all 4 members of each group as well as one teen child in each household both before the intervention and 18 months after the roll-out of the program.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Village
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
272 village microenterprises
Sample size: planned number of observations
2000 surveys in 1088 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
136 microenterprises and 544 entrepreneurs treatment, 136 microenterprises and 544 entrepreneurs control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Rwanda National Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
2015-10-19
IRB Approval Number
00001497