Evaluation of a Support Program for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Côte d'Ivoire

Last registered on January 02, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Evaluation of a Support Program for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Côte d'Ivoire
Initial registration date
December 31, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 02, 2022, 10:10 AM EST

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



Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Business support programs, such as classroom-based training or consulting services, are widely used by developing country governments to enhance the performance of small-scale enterprises. Although job creation and the central role of the small business sector for overall employment are one common justification for implementing such programs, they are often not designed to target employment outcomes directly and few studies have established a clear link between business support interventions and job creation or employment quality. We conduct a rigorous impact evaluation of a support program for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Côte d’Ivoire. The program will deliver consulting services to 250 Ivorian MSMEs over the duration of six months and focuses on the dimensions of financial management and human resource management. Beneficiary MSMEs are selected randomly from the pool of more than 450 MSMEs who applied to participate in the program, passed the eligibility assessment, and responded to a baseline survey. Our evaluation covers key outcomes at two levels. At the firm level, we will consider (i) employment in quantitative terms, (ii) employment security and quality, (iii) HR management practices, (iv) firm performance, (v) capital and labor productivity, (vi) access to finance and financial constraints, as well as (vii) financial management practices. At the individual level, outcomes are (i) employment, (ii) employment quality, and (iii) mobility.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Beber, Bernd et al. 2022. "Evaluation of a Support Program for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Côte d'Ivoire." AEA RCT Registry. January 02. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8492-1.0
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Experimental Details


The Programme d’Appui à la Productivité (PAP-PME) offers six months of consulting support to Ivorian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). While the program also targets overall business performance and productivity, there is a strong, politically mandated emphasis on creating and improving employment. The third and final cohort of the program, which is at the center of this evaluation, offers consulting support primarily in the areas of financial management and human resource (HR) management. Should the PAP-PME be continued, the evaluation may be extended to include one or more future cohorts.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our evaluation considers outcomes both at the enterprise and at the employee level. At the firm level, important outcomes are (i) employment, measured both in terms of the number of jobs and hours worked, as well as in terms of staff turnover and workforce composition, (ii) employment security and quality, e.g. the share of employees with a written contract or registered for social security, as well as the provision of training opportunities and benefits, (iii) other HR management practices, (iv) metrics of firm performance, such as revenue and profit, (v) capital and labor productivity, (vi) access to finance and financial constraints, (vii) financial management practices.

At the individual level, outcomes are (i) employment, e.g. in terms of hours worked and job mobility/retention as well as diversification of income sources, (ii) employment quality in terms of a variety of outcomes such as earnings, having a written contract, job satisfaction, or training opportunities, and (iii) mobility, e.g. in terms of individuals’ interest in and planning for relocating within Côte d’Ivoire or migrating internationally.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Employment and employment creation are the program’s primary objectives from a political perspective, and firm-level improvements are necessary to enable them. The choice of firm-level performance and employment variables as important outcomes reflect the program’s performance targets and its two-pronged approach focusing on financial and HR management.

Employment and employment quality are measured both at the firm and individual level, which complement each other in multiple ways: for example, it is desirable to detect firm-level program effects at the extensive margin, such as whether a firm offers social security or written contracts to any employees, or on relevant firm-level aggregates and averages, such as the total number of jobs, hours worked, or the average monthly wage paid. One important advantage of using individual-level employee data is that it allows us to cross-check information given by the firm’s management – for example social security registration, written contracts, or wages – and thus safeguards against drawing conclusions influenced by desirability bias on the part of firm managers. Additionally, given the program’s employment focus, the totality of all participating firms’ employees is a natural target group whose outcomes should receive special attention.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The implementing agency advertised the program nationwide using its network of local representations as well as business associations. In total, 576 interested enterprises (excluding double submissions and beneficiaries of earlier cohorts) from different regions in Côte d’Ivoire submitted application documents in March 2021, 503 of which were identified as fulfilling the eligibility criteria of at least one year of existence and having at least one employee. These 503 MSMEs received an email congratulating them on their admission to the program and inviting them to a virtual program inception meeting. They were informed that the program would begin with the baseline data collection which doubled as a diagnostic, and consist of virtual and in-situ coaching. A baseline survey of 452 eligible enterprises and their employees was carried out in April and May 2021, with the remaining MSMEs refusing to participate in the survey, being unresponsive or unavailable over the duration of six weeks. Out of the MSMEs who responded to the baseline survey, 250 firms were randomly assigned to the treatment group receiving individual consulting in blocks formed by the administrative region, size in terms of the number of employees, the share of female employees, and annual revenue. Both treatment and control group received access to an online platform with courses on general management topics.

For the individual consulting, five Ivorian consulting firms that had won a local tender to deliver the program were each randomly assigned 50 firms, after blocking by geographic region and enterprise size. The consultants were tasked with the following program activities:

1) Drawing up a report including an analysis of the main weaknesses and key recommendations for each enterprise (with an emphasis on the areas of financial management and HR management);
2) Validating the contents of the report with the firm’s main manager and providing the necessary tools to implement the recommendations;
3) Validating the report and tools with the Agence CI PME;
4) Supporting the implementation of the recommendations;
5) Reporting regularly on the implementation of the recommendations.

Before contacting enterprises, the consultants were provided with the baseline data as well as a portrait of each enterprise including an analysis of financial management and HR management practices as a basis for their reports. They were encouraged to collect additional information from the firms where necessary.

During the implementation of the program, monitoring data is provided regularly by the consultants. Such data covers the number of consultant visits, weaknesses identified in the firm’s management, recommendations given, and tools provided by the consultants, as well as regular updates on the implementation of recommended changes. Shortly after the end of the program, the Agence CI PME will implement a brief follow-up survey with the enterprises of the treatment group, which will serve as a verification check for the information given by the consultants and provide information on satisfaction with and perceived usefulness of the intervention.

Approximately six and twelve months after the end of the benefits period, respectively, we will conduct follow-up interviews with treatment and control group enterprises as well as their employees. In addition and where possible, we will use administrative data from public service providers, for example the social security provider, to complement our analyses.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The random assignment is done by PIs with a replicable procedure using statistical software.
Randomization Unit
For the assignment of the program, the unit of randomization is the firm.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
452 enterprises and approximately 2,090 employees.
Sample size: planned number of observations
452 enterprises and approximately 2,090 employees.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
The treatment group consists of 250 enterprises, the control group consists of 202 enterprises.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
In a basic group means comparison with 80% power, a significance level of 0.05, and unit standard deviations, the standardized MDE for the total sample of 450 enterprises (250 in the treatment group, 200 in the control group) is .13, and the MDE for the employee sample (2,090 individuals, assuming 450 enterprise clusters, coefficient of variation and intra-cluster correlation estimated based on baseline data) is 0.06.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
GIGA Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

PAP-PME Pre-Analysis Plan

MD5: ab38a5e11cdeaaf8962c64bb5b97b474

SHA1: ee8eeed898bad552f9452e7135df31076d9d3bc0

Uploaded At: December 30, 2021


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Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

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Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials