Returns to Consulting for Women Entrepreneurs

Last registered on December 17, 2013


Trial Information

General Information

Returns to Consulting for Women Entrepreneurs
First published
December 17, 2013, 1:23 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


Primary Investigator

Northwestern University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Yale University
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics and Political Science

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Small businesses are widely believed to serve as engines for innovation, employment and social mobility. Yet, data suggest that very few small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in low-income countries grow into larger businesses. Because SME owners often have limited human capital and lack management experience (Bruhn et al. 2012, Bloom et al. 2010, Drexler et al. 2011), many governments and development agencies invest in technical assistance programs aimed at training and mentoring entrepreneurs and helping SMEs to develop expansion strategies. However, little rigorous research exists on if and why these types of training programs are effective and whether they can be designed more efficiently to enable transformational entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation.

This evaluation assesses the impact of TechnoServe’s Women Mean Business program, which provides business skills training and mentoring to women entrepreneurs in Central Uganda. In addition to analyzing the direct impact of the training on recipient SMEs, we also examine the overall welfare effects on the community – a perspective that is needed to inform policymaking about SMEs but which is missing from most existing evaluations. A clustered randomization design enables us to capture spillovers from the training on non-participating businesses, such as stealing customers from competitors or sharing information with collaborators. A series of consumer-focused interviews will allow us to explore a new approach that moves beyond firm outcomes to look at the broader welfare effect on the community, tracking changes in price, quality, variety, and service that may benefit or harm consumers. Finally, the study will provide insight into aspects of program design, such as which types of entrepreneurs and businesses benefit the most from managerial training, which may help to target future programs more effectively. This evaluation will expand our understanding of how SMEs in low-income countries operate and how improved business operations affect the broader community.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Fischer, Greg, Dean Karlan and Meredith Startz. 2013. "Returns to Consulting for Women Entrepreneurs." AEA RCT Registry. December 17.
Former Citation
Fischer, Greg, Dean Karlan and Meredith Startz. 2013. "Returns to Consulting for Women Entrepreneurs." AEA RCT Registry. December 17.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


TechnoServe’s Women Mean Business (WMB) program provides business skills training to women entrepreneurs in Central Uganda. TechnoServe Uganda introduced the WMB program in 2008 to provide managerial training to women business owners in Kampala, Entebbe, Mukono and Jinja. An expansion of the WMB program was implemented in August 2012, enabling TechnoServe to provide business skills training to approximately 800 businesswomen. The training consists of classroom sessions covering topics such as cash flow and financial management, sales and marketing, and human resources management; sector-specific training sessions and field trips with other women entrepreneurs operating in the same sector; and one-on-one work with a coach (a local business school student who works with the entrepreneur to develop a business plan) and a mentor (a local business consultant) over the course of six months. The intended outcomes of the WMB program for participating entrepreneurs are: 1) improved business management as a result of increased knowledge of business practices and confidence to effectively operate their businesses, and 2) improved access to formal financial services and other business development services.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Revenues, profits, number of employees, recordkeeping, confidence and attitude of business owner
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Applicants to the WMB program who met basic eligibility criteria (for example, sex of business owner and years in operation) were randomly assigned to either the training (treatment) group or a comparison group that received no business skills training.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
In office by computer
Randomization Unit
Unit of randomization is the firm, with likelihood of assignment to treatment or control varying by cluster (geographic ward).
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
133 wards
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,297 women business owners
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
806 women in the training group; 491 women in Control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Yale University Human Subjects Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials