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Bangladesh

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"This paper studies the impact on well-being and business outcomes from teaching stress-management practices to small firm owners in Bangladesh. Female owners were randomly assigned either to a treatment group that received a 10-week Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) course featuring priority-setting and relaxation techniques, or to a control group exposed to Empathic Listening. CBT leads to large initial reductions in owner stress, but no initial increase in firm profits. Six months after receiving CBT, owners in sectors with a low concentration of women show large and significant effects on stress, and their firms show increased profits. By contrast, owners in female-dominated sectors experience a short-lived reduction in stress, and firms show no changes in profits. The large post-treatment differences in well-being and profits between industries suggest that the ability to manage stress is malleable, and that industry choice proxies for traits that are strongly correlated with returns to training."

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"Resources to validate new sanitation technologies and prepare for market entry – prerequisites for achieving sustainable, scaled solutions – tend to be quite scarce compared to those available to scale proven solutions. As such, a problematic ‘Pioneer Gap’ exists. This funder landscape seeks to both clarify the ‘Pioneer Gap’ and point readers to potential funding and other resources poised to help fill this problematic gap. Two promising forms of funding are explored in detail: catalytic philanthropy and blended finance leveraging impact investment."

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"We study the effects of explosive growth in the Bangladeshi ready-made garments industry on the lives on Bangladeshi women. We compare the marriage, childbearing, school enrollment and employment decisions of women who gain greater access to garment sector jobs to women living further away from factories, to years before the factories arrive close to some villages, and to the marriage and enrollment decisions of their male siblings. Girls exposed to the garment sector delay marriage and childbirth. This stems from (a) young girls becoming more likely to be enrolled in school after garment jobs (which reward literacy and numeracy) arrive, and (b) older girls becoming more likely to be employed outside the home in garment-proximate villages. The demand for education generated through manufacturing growth appears to have a much larger effect on female educational attainment compared to a large-scale government conditional cash transfer program to encourage female schooling."

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"The world's poorest people lack capital and skills and toil for others in occupations that others shun. Using a large-scale and long-term randomized control trial in Bangladesh this paper demonstrates that sizable transfers of assets and skills enable the poorest women to shift out of agricultural labor and into running small businesses. This shift, which persists and strengthens after assistance is withdrawn, leads to a 38% increase in earnings. Inculcating basic entrepreneurship, where severely disadvantaged women take on occupations which were the preserve of non-poor women, is shown to be a powerful means of transforming the economic lives of the poor."

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"Working on myriad cases of inclusive business projects over the past five years, we have gathered deep insights to be able to create and test a robust tool that works in the context of Bangladesh. The goal of the publication is to inspire social ventures adequately serve the bottom of the pyramid by leveraging this robust framework, which allows for a detailed list of factors ensuring viability, sustainability and scalability.

Focus has invariably shifted towards building sustainable models where we work not in isolation, but hand in hand with entrepreneurs, investors and organizations to explore new markets, discover more customers, and, in the process, transform lives of the underserved 2.7 billion. The solution lies in bringing them as an integral part of the market economy, create employment and convert them into consumers; not keep them in fringes of the informal economy."

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"Management has a large effect on the productivity of medium and large firms. But does management matter in micro and small firms, where the majority of the labor force in developing countries works? We develop 26 questions that measure business practices in marketing, stock-keeping, record-keeping, and financial planning. These questions have been administered in surveys in Bangladesh, Chile, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka. We show that variation in business practices explains as much of the variation in outcomes-sales, profits, and labor productivity and total factor productivity-in microenterprises as in larger enterprises."

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