Country
Jamaica

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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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"We estimate the demand for business training among entrepreneurs in Jamaica. We use either a re-framed version of the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak (BDM) mechanism or take-it-or-leave-it (TIOLI) offers to elicit willingness to pay for business training. We find that the majority of entrepreneurs have a positive willingness to pay for training, which suggests some scope for providers to help partially recover the costs of offering training. Our results indicate that charging a higher price for the course screens out a large share of entrepreneurs, in particular those entrepreneurs with fewer assets, who are more risk-averse business owners, and those who do not expect to benefit as much from the training. Providing a credit option does not affect take-up of the course. We find that higher willingness to pay is correlated with higher attendance, and conditionally on paying a positive price, those who are offered higher prices are more likely to attend, pointing to psychological or sunk-cost effects. However, this does not fully compensate for the reduction in participation in training due to the extensive margin effect of charging higher prices. Finally, we find some evidence that business training encourages higher adoption of business practices and improves business knowledge.

Our follow-up survey suffered from high attrition, which limits our ability to detect impacts on sales and profits. We do not see that effects are stronger for entrepreneurs paying higher prices or with higher willingness to pay, but a lack of statistical power also means that we cannot rule out the possibility that those
who pay higher prices do benefit more. We conclude that the optimal price for governments to charge may therefore lie somewhere in between free or nominal cost and market price, and depend on how governments trade-off equity and efficiency."

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