Experimental Design Details
We study a novel entrepreneurship training, an entrepreneurship academy, offered to students for free by StartHub Africa (SHA). The academy teaches business skills and an entrepreneurial mindset to university students in Uganda. The extra-curricular program is aligned with the semester and consists of 3-hour weekly sessions over 9 weeks at several leading Ugandan universities. In the academy, individuals or teams develop a business plan and a business prototype. SHA runs the academies twice per year (spring and fall).
We advertise the training in large classes at the participating universities. We collect data on where the academy was advertised. The advertisement campaign describes the academy briefly. Those interested in more details and potentially in applying are invited to an information session. The 30 minutes long information sessions take place at each university over two days. There are about 10 sessions on each day. Across different sessions, we randomly manipulate the central message promoting the academy in customized video messages. The videos either highlight the profit motives for becoming an entrepreneur, or they highlight entrepreneurial independence and creative freedom. Participation in an information session is a pre-requisite for applying to the academy. The application forms are distributed at the info sessions.
Based on past experience, we expect that there would be an excess interest in applying for the academy. Since predicting who would benefit from the training the most is difficult (e.g., McKenzie and Sansone 2019 and discussions with SHA), we fully randomize selection from the entire pool of applicants. This allows us to construct a treatment group that receives the training and a control group that is excluded from the academy. We also randomly select a third, “buffer” group from which we draw additional academy participants should some individuals from the treatment group drop out from the academy. We do not collect any data from this group after the application form.
We collect data at several stages.
First, we collect data on personal information, contacts, and cognitive ability, overconfidence, and on dealing with failure at the information sessions in a pen and paper survey filled out by students attending an information session on their own.
Second, we collect data on an application form from those who apply in a pen and paper-based application form. The form asks for more personal information, on entrepreneurship (reasons for entering entrepreneurship, status of own business idea, business experience, field of business, business networks, liquidity constraints, knowledge of funding opportunities for start-ups, access to loans), on expectations of future earnings when running a business versus when being employed. Lastly, the form also contains open ended questions on motivation to take part in the academy, beliefs about what makes a good entrepreneur, and information about own (potential) business idea.
We administer a baseline survey among the treatment and control group. This survey covers personal information, contact information, employment and business experience, measures of access to networks, personality traits measures, measures of personal initiative, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, unincentivized preference measures (risk, time, loss aversion), and measures of stress.
The same questions as in the baseline survey are also administered to the comparison group of students in classes where the academy was advertised but who decided not to come to the info session. The baseline survey is administered just after the application but before the participants learn about their admission status.
We administer an academy exit-survey at the time when each academy ends with individuals from the treatment and the control group.
We administer midline and endline surveys in 6 and 12 months after the academy ends. On top of all baseline questions, these surveys collect data on all primary and secondary outcomes which allows us to collect the same data repeatedly. Both surveys are administered in person.
We plan to apply for additional funding to extend the tracking of individuals for a longer period. We would write a separate trial registration and pre-analysis plan for the possible extension.