Region
Latin America & Caribbean

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"This toolbox is the result of a collaborative process between Practical Action and the Institute of Socio-Economic Research of the Bolivian Catholic University "San Pablo" (IISEC-UCB). The complementarity of visions and action areas reflects in an innovative proposal that aims to respond to a frequent and growing need by non governmental organizations: to measure the impact of gender-focused actions promoted by development projects, in this case productive."

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"A randomized control trial with 945 entrepreneurs in Jamaica shows positive short-term impacts of soft-skills training on business outcomes. The effects are
concentrated among men, and disappear twelve months after the training. We argue that the main channel is increased adoption of recommended business practices, exclusively observed in the short run. We see persistent effects on an incentivized behavioral measure of perseverance after setbacks, a focus of this training. We compare a course focused only on soft-skills to one that combines soft-skills training with traditional business training. The effects of the combined training are never statistically significant."

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"Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are thought to be important drivers of growth in developing economies, but entrepreneurs in these countries face many barriers, including poor access to training, finance, and business networks. In Colombia, Fundación Bavaria's "Destapa Futuro" (Open the Future) program identifies promising enterprises and provides them with a suite of financial, technical, business, and training resources. Researchers found that the trainings did not affect key business outcomes, such as sales and profits, but helped entrepreneurs to expand their business networks."

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"We design a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the adoption of credit scoring with a bank that uses soft information in small businesses lending. We find that credit scores improve the productivity of credit committees, reduce managerial involvement in the loan approval process, and increase the profitability of lending.

Credit committee members' effort and output also increase when they anticipate the score becoming available, indicating that scores improve incentives to use existing information. Our results imply that credit scores improve the efficiency and decentralize decision-making in loan production, which has implications for the optimal organization of banks."

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"This paper uses a randomized controlled experiment in Costa Rica to determine whether IB use by Banco Nacional de Desarrollo's micro and small enterprise (MSE) clients has an impact on their performance, measured in terms of productivity, increase in sales, and cost reduction. Results from the intervention group surveys indicate that Internet use is limited in MSEs' daily operations because of limited access to computers and the relatively low penetration of Internet services in employees' activities. In addition, firms have limited knowledge about the uses of the Internet as a business development tool. These results contrast with the reported benefits obtained by a small group of firms. Those benefits include reduced costs, higher sales, and better contact with customers."

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"A randomized control trial with 432 small and medium enterprises in Mexico shows positive impact of access to 1 year of management consulting services on total factor productivity and return on assets. Owners also had an increase in "entrepreneurial spirit" (an index that measures entrepreneurial confidence and goal setting). Using Mexican social security data, we find a persistent large increase (about 50 percent) in the number of employees and total wage bill even 5 years after the program. We document large heterogeneity in the specific managerial practices that improved as a result of the consulting, with the most prominent being marketing, financial accounting, and long-term business planning."

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"The Government of Nicaragua and the US foreign assistance agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, launched a rural business services program designed to boost the income of the small farm sector. Relying on a randomized rollout strategy, this paper reports the results of a multi-year impact evaluation that spanned the 5-year life of the program. We argue that impacts of a program of this sort are unlikely to be fully revealed by standard binary treatment estimators and show that temporal pattern of impact indeed evolves in important ways over time. Income in the activities targeted by the program steadily rose, plateauing at a 30% increase over baseline after two years in the program. The program also appears to have provoked signicant increases in both mobile and perhaps xed farm capital. However, on average there have been no signicant impacts on household living standards to date. Finally, conditional quantile regressions give evidence of quite substantial heterogeneity in program impact."

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"The Impact Investing Landscape in Latin America is a joint report by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and the The Association for Private Capital in Latin America (LAVCA). The 2018 edition of the report provides an updated, comprehensive look on the state of impact investing across Latin America. Using survey data from over 60 investors in the region, the report outlines trends in investment activity in 2016 and 2017, examines challenges for investors, and evaluates the future of impact investing in Latin America - where investors plan to deploy an additional US$2b in capital over the next two years."

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"This article evaluates the effect of the Argentinean Support Program for Organizational Change on employment and wages. The program aimed at increasing small and medium-sized enterprises' competitiveness by co-financing technical assistance to support process and product innovation activities. Although employment is not usually the main objective of these types of programs, they are always implemented assuming that they create - or at least do not destroy-employment opportunities. We use a unique data set with information for the population of firms in Argentina from 1996 to 2008 to test this important assumption. Using a combination of fixed effects and matching, we find that both process and product innovation support increased employment and wages, with a higher impact on employment. In addition, we find that product innovation support had a larger effect on wages than process innovation support."

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"Do business accelerators affect new venture performance? We investigate this question in the context of Start-Up Chile, an ecosystem accelerator. We focus on two treatment conditions typically found in business accelerators: basic services of funding and coworking space, and additional entrepreneurship schooling. Using a regression discontinuity design, we show that schooling bundled with basic services can significantly increase new venture performance. In contrast, we find no evidence that basic services affect performance on their own. Our results are most relevant for ecosystem accelerators that attract young and early-stage businesses and suggest that entrepreneurial capital matters in new ventures."

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