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Business Training

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"As part of its Agribusiness Innovation Program (AIP), infoDev designed an agribusiness incubation training program. To-date, the Agribusiness Incubation Training has been provided to a total of 149 people from 25 countries, including countries from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. This report analyzes the effects of the delivery of this training. The agribusiness incubation training sessions took place as a one-day-training1 in the context of seven different events."

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"Recent field experiments demonstrate that advice, mentorship, and feedback from randomly assigned peers improve entrepreneurial performance. These results raise a natural question: what is preventing entrepreneurs and managers from forming these peer connections themselves? We argue that entrepreneurs may be under-networked because they lack the necessary social skills- the ability to communicate effectively and interact collaboratively with new acquaintances-that allow them to match efficiently with knowledgeable peers. We use a field experiment in the context of a business training program to test if a short social skills training module improves who the participants choose to learn from within the program. We find that entrepreneurs who were exposed to the social skills training formed 50% more relationships with peers. These relationships exhibited more matching based on managerial skill and were more ethnically diverse. Finally, the training also substantially increased entrepreneurs' business performance. Our findings suggest that social skills help entrepreneurs build relationships that create value for both themselves and their peers."

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"Identifying the determinants of entrepreneurship is an important research and policy goal, especially in emerging market economies where lack of capital and supporting infrastructure often impose stringent constraints on business growth. This paper studies the impact of a comprehensive business and financial literacy programme on firm outcomes of young entrepreneurs in an emerging post-conflict economy, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The authors conduct a randomised control trial and find that, while the training programme did not influence business survival, it significantly improved business practices, investments and loan terms for surviving businesses. Female-run businesses further exhibited some improvements in business performance and sales."

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"Despite the popularity of business training among policy makers, the use of business training has faced increasing skepticism. This is, in part, fueled by the fact that most of the first wave of randomized experiments in developing countries could not detect statistically significant impacts of training on firms' profits or sales. This paper revisits and reassesses the evidence for whether small business training works, incorporating the results of more recent studies. A meta-analysis of these estimates suggests that training increases profits and sales on average by 5 to 10 percent. The author argues that this is in line with what is optimistic to expect given the relatively short length of most training programs, and the expected return on investment from the cost of such training. However, impacts of this magnitude are too small for most experiments to detect statistically. Emerging evidence is provided on five approaches for improving the effectiveness of traditional training by incorporating gender, kaizen methods, localization and mentoring, heuristics, and psychology. Training programs that incorporate these elements appear to deliver improvements over traditional training programs on average, although with considerable variation. Given that training delivers some benefits for firms, the challenge is then how to deliver a quality program on a cost-effective basis at a much larger scale. Three possible approaches to scaling up training are discussed: using the market, using technology, or targeting and funneling firms."

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"Identifying the determinants of entrepreneurship is an important research and policy goal, especially in emerging market economies where lack of capital and supporting infrastructure often imposes stringent constraints on business growth. This paper studies the impact of a comprehensive business and financial literacy program on firm outcomes of young entrepreneurs in an emerging post-conflict economy, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The authors conduct a randomized control trial and find that while the training program did not influence business survival, it significantly improved business practices, investments, and loan terms for surviving businesses. Entrepreneurs with higher ex-ante financial literacy further exhibited some improvements in business performance and sales."

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"The purpose of this paper is to examine how entrepreneurial orientation (EO) and the use of management accounting practices (MAPs) in decision making affects the profitability of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and also to analyze the extent to which EO and the use of MAPs affects profitability differently in growing and non-growing SMEs.

EO and MAPs have a positive effect on profitability in non-growing SMEs, but the combined effect of EO and MAPs has no additional effect. However, for growing SMEs, high usage of MAPs in decision making is a prerequisite for EO to influence profitability. This study is the first to use the resource-based view to examine the relationship between two dimensions of resource organization and SME profitability. EO is used as a proxy for how resources are organized in order to identify opportunities, and MAPs are used as a proxy for how efficiently resources are organized."

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"Small businesses are often believed to serve as engines for innovation, employment and social mobility, due to their flexibility in responding to new opportunities and their potential for rapid growth. In developing countries, SMEs make up a particularly large part of the economy, yet data suggests that very few small enterprises in developing countries grow into larger businesses. Researchers conducted a qualitative study of a consulting program in the Philippines designed to help SMEs expand, investigating the obstacles that consultants identified as constraints to firm growth. They found that there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to business training - most firms have a complex, interconnected set of challenges."

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"This paper examines the impact of improvements in marketing skills relative to finance skills among small-scale entrepreneurs. It addresses three important questions: (1) What is the impact of marketing or finance skills on business profits? (2) How do improvements in marketing and finance skills respectively affect different business outcomes? (3) When are increases in marketing relative to finance skills more beneficial? Through a randomized control study of 852 firms in South Africa, the analysis finds significant improvements in profitability from both types of business skills training. However, the pathways to achieve these gains differ substantially between the two groups. The marketing group achieves greater profits by adopting a growth focus on higher sales, greater investments in stock and materials, and hiring more employees. The finance group achieves similar profit gains but through an efficiency focus on lower costs. Both groups show significantly higher adoption of business practices related to their respective training program. Consistent with a growth focus, marketing/sales skills are significantly more beneficial to businesses run by entrepreneurs with ex ante less exposure to different market contexts. In contrast and in line with an efficiency focus, it is the more established businesses that benefit significantly more from finance/accounting skills."

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"This paper identifies separate and unique pathways to profits among small businesses in South Africa that are exposed to marketing or finance training in a randomized control study. The marketing group achieves greater profits by adopting a growth focus on higher sales, greater investments in stock and materials, and hiring more employees. The finance group achieves similar profit gains but through an efficiency focus on lower costs. Both groups show significantly higher adoption of business practices related to their respective training program. Consistent with a growth focus, marketing/sales skills are significantly more beneficial to firm owners who ex ante have less exposure to different business contexts. In contrast and in line with an efficiency focus, entrepreneurs who have been running more established businesses prior to training benefit significantly more from finance/accounting skills."

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"This paper presents the preliminary results of our ongoing study of corrective policy intervention in cluster-based industrial development. At the center of this study is a field experiment that we are conducting in a knitwear cluster in Ha Noi (previously Ha Tay) and a rolled steal cluster in Bac Ninh in Vietnam. In these clusters, we conducted baseline surveys of firms from April to July 2010 and then provided classroom training programs for entrepreneurs in June to August of the same year. The evaluation of the training impacts is expected to reveal whether entrepreneurs in clusters possess basic knowledge of management before the training, what characterizes the entrepreneurs who are more willing and able to absorb new knowledge, whether the training can change entrepreneurs' attitudes toward learning management knowledge, how much entrepreneurs can learn from a short-period training program, and whether the benefit of the training program exceeds its cost, among others."

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