Theme
Capacity Development

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"Villgro is a business incubator with a unique rural orientation. It concerns itself not only with the launch of new businesses but more generally with the transfer of new products, knowledge and services into rural space. Faced with the challenge of finding technologies that match rural requirements, Villgro has linked marketable product/service concepts from diverse sources with entrepreneurs who have start-up experience—so-called serial entrepreneurs. Other incubators may have difficulty imitating Villgro’s business model. The conditions for its development are unique, its management approaches are relatively untested and the values of its management team are deeply intertwined with perceptions of how the rural business system operates in India. However, other startup incubators can learn from Villgro the importance of getting management basics right before attempting to transform an entire agricultural sector. Good governance, transparency, accountability, building teams around highly capable employees and continuously enhancing their management skills are important no matter the strategic orientation of the emerging incubator."

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"Peer networks are seen as important for stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship, but little is known about how the structure and composition of networks affect innovation performance. Researchers compared the effects of face-to-face and virtual peer interaction on the submission and quality of business proposals by individuals from 49 African countries enrolled in an online entrepreneurship course. They found that face-to-face networks and the virtual interaction of groups of entrepreneurs of the same nationality increased the submission of business proposals to a funding competition, but that virtual interaction had no effect when groups were formed with entrepreneurs of different nationalities. Virtual interaction among entrepreneurs of the same nationality was also found to increase the quality of submitted business proposals."

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"The review aims primarily to synthesize the evidence on the effects of vocational and business training programmes that aim to improve women's labour market outcomes. It also seeks to improve understanding of the barriers to and facilitators of vocational and business training effectiveness for women. This systematic review by Chinen and colleagues examined the effects on employment, income, sales, and profits. They find that vocational and business training, on average, leads to minor improvements in women's economic well-being. Differences in the programmes' effectiveness suggest that having a gender focus leads to larger impacts on women. The authors conclude that skill-building programmes may be effective when carefully designed with local gender norms in mind."

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"Business training programs are a popular policy option to improve the performance of enterprises around the world, and the number of rigorous impact evaluations of these programs is growing. A critical review reveals that many evaluations suffer from small sample sizes, measure impacts only within a year of training, and experience problems with survey attrition and measurement that limit the conclusions one can draw. Over these short time horizons, there are relatively modest effects of training on the survivorship of existing firms. However, there is stronger evidence that training programs help prospective owners launch new businesses more quickly. Most studies find that existing firm owners implement some of the practices taught in training, but the magnitudes of the improvement to practices is often modest. Few studies find significant impacts on profits or sales, although some studies with greater statistical power have done so. There is little evidence to guide policymakers regarding whether any identified effects are due to trained firms drawing sales from competing businesses rather than through productivity improvements or to guide the development of the provision of training at market prices. We conclude by summarizing some directions and key questions for future studies."

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"What do accelerators do? Broadly speaking, they help ventures define and build their initial products, identify promising customer segments, and secure resources, including capital and employees. More specifically, accelerator programs are programs of limited-duration—lasting about three months—that help cohorts of startups with the new venture process. They usually provide a small amount of seed capital, plus working space. They also offer a plethora of networking opportunities, with both peer ventures and mentors, who might be successful entrepreneurs, program graduates, venture capitalists, angel investors, or even corporate executives. Finally, most programs end with a grand event, a “demo day” where ventures pitch to a large audience of qualified investors."

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"Social impact accelerators (SIAs) seek to select startups with the potential to generate financial returns and social impact. Through the lenses of signaling theory and gender role congruity theory, we examine 2324 social startups that applied to 123 SIAs globally in 2016 and 2017 and find that SIAs are more likely to accept startups that signal their economic and social credibility. Moreover, while we find that the influence of these signals is strongest when they are congruent with the stereotypes associated with the lead founder's gender, men seem to experience better outcomes from gender incongruity than women."

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"The study was set in rural markets in Kenya with the objective of testing how the GET Ahead programme affects the profitability, growth and survival of female-owned businesses, and to evaluate whether any gains in profitability come at the expense of other business owners. A year-and-a-half after the training had taken place, a mentoring intervention was randomly assigned among trained women to test whether additional group-based and in-person support strengthens the impacts of training on intended outcomes."

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"Risk is an inherent feature of agriculture around the globe. The ever-present uncertainties in weather, yields, prices, government policies, global markets, and other factors can cause high volatility in farm income. In developing countries, smallholder farmers (and other small enterprises within the value chain) often do not have access to risk management products such as insurance to protect themselves from shock. Key barriers to the development of insurance markets in developing countries include: lack of awareness and understanding about insurance among households, high overhead costs associated with data collection and claims processing, and the limited availability of insurance products that meet the needs of poor and low-income farmers.

The use of digital tools in agricultural insurance has the potential to facilitate client uptake, reduce transaction costs, improve efficiency of the insurance process, and increase household resilience to respond to external shocks while ensuring stability, growth, and sustainability of agricultural value chains. Technology has its shortcomings, and the use of digital tools alone will not be sufficient to increase access to affordable, quality agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers. However, when strategically and thoughtfully inserted into existing Feed the Future programs, technology has the potential to accelerate and amplify USAID investments in sustainable agriculture and food security."

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"This report sets out to evaluate the role that accelerators — organizations that provide capacity-building support to early-stage startups to help them scale their companies and attract investment — can play in addressing the gender financing gap. To determine this, we turned our attention to two primary questions, with a specific focus on startups in emerging markets: what is the gender financing gap pre- and post-acceleration, and what factors explain the gap? What strategies could accelerators employ to address the gender financing gap?"

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"In a webinar on February 20, 2020, Tim Ogden, Managing Director of the Financial Access Initiative at NYU shared the latest insights on SME business training programs, with guest speaker David McKenzie, Lead Economist in the Development Research Group, Finance and Private Sector Development Unit at the World Bank. Tim and David discussed what we know about small business performance and productivity, the importance of management, and training impact evaluations--all essential for innovating SME training programs."

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