In IPA Francophone West Africa, we have been truthful to our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and generating evidence to reduce poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Examples of our work below offer promising insights into critical issues that affect the lives of the most vulnerable.
À IPA Afrique de l’Ouest francophone, nous avons respecté notre tradition mondiale de recherche rigoureuse et applicable en renforçant les capacités fondamentales en recherche et en produisant des preuves pour réduire la pauvreté et atteindre les objectifs de développement durable (ODD). Les exemples ci-dessous de notre travail offrent un aperçu prometteur des questions critiques qui affectent la vie des plus vulnérables.
In this brief, Innovations for Poverty Action has compiled evidence-based insights from randomized evaluations and quasi-experimental studies from non-crisis periods on how to support women’s return to the labor force and/or increase their participation in the workforce in low- and middle-income countries. We particularly focus on insights that may be applicable in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Las pequeñas y medianas empresas (PYME) representan una importante fuente de empleo en muchos países de ingresos bajos y medios. Por lo tanto, encontrar las medidas más efectivas para ayudar a las pymes a responder y recuperarse cuando se enfrentan a crisis económicas, como las provocadas por el COVID-19, es de gran relevancia en materia de políticas. En Colombia, los investigadores están evaluando el impacto económico de otorgar préstamos de estímulo a las pymes, distribuidos a través del programa de ayuda COVID-19 del gobierno ("Unidos por Colombia"), en la supervivencia, las ganancias y el empleo.
Mejorar la productividad y la competitividad de las exportaciones de las pequeñas y medianas empresas (PYME) es un camino común que toman los gobiernos para promover el desarrollo económico. En Colombia, los investigadores están realizando una evaluación aleatoria para comprobar si la mejora en las prácticas de gestión llevan a las empresas aumentar sus exportaciones, diversificar lo que exportan y hacia dónde exportan, y aumentar la productividad de las exportaciones en el contexto del programa “Colombia Productiva”.
In this brief, Innovations for Poverty Action has compiled evidence-based insights from multiple meta-analyses and three-dozen randomized evaluations (both IPA and non-IPA studies) on how to support young women’s skill-building and their transition into the labor force in low- and middle-income countries, with a focus on the COVID-19 crisis.
Ten years ago, there was a common understanding in the international development community that policies to support entrepreneurship and firm growth in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) were needed, but there was little rigorous evidence to inform the design and implementation of these policies around the world. The Small and Medium Enterprise Program (or SME Initiative, as it was called at that time) was born out of the need to fill this gap in knowledge and evidence. We aimed to achieve this by bringing together the worlds of research and policy to tackle important questions around the constraints to firm growth and find cost-effective solutions.
Founded by Dean Karlan (Northwestern University) and Antoinette Schoar (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 2011, the SME Initiative started with a small but committed team and a handful of research projects and soon grew to become a thriving and prolific research program. Over the last decade, the SME Program has been at the forefront of the evidence generation efforts to understand what works to support entrepreneurship and SME development in LMICs. We have developed and engaged a strong network of innovative and influential researchers and partnered with key decision-makers around the world to address some of the most important challenges faced by businesses and entrepreneurs in their path to growth. With a portfolio of nearly 200 research projects across 39 countries, the SME Program has been a key contributor to “what we know” in this sector, and an important voice in the dissemination of these lessons to the wide audience of policymakers and practitioners around the world. These achievements would not have been possible without the commitment, passion, expertise, generosity, and hard work of our researchers, advisors, partners, donors, and IPA staff across the world. To all of them, we are deeply grateful.
In this report, we share some of the lessons learned over the past ten years and outline our strategy for the years to come.
Más del 60 por ciento de los trabajadores del mundo están empleados en el sector informal, y se enfrentan a más retos y riesgos que sus homólogos del sector formal. Aunque los gobiernos y las organizaciones han puesto en marcha programas para fomentar la formalización, el progreso es más lento de lo esperado. En Colombia, los investigadores estudiaron si el acceso a la información promovía la formalización en una comunidad de bajos ingresos. Los resultados sugieren que la intervención tuvo pequeños y positivos, pero en general no significativos, en la formalización de las empresas, y efectos más sustanciales en la percepción de los costos y beneficios de la formalización. Se necesitan más investigaciones para generalizar estos resultados y aclarar los mecanismos subyacentes. Se está planeando realizar una evaluación a mayor escala en Bogotá.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) around the world have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Women-led businesses have suffered disproportionately from the slowing pace of business activity. A gender-intentional approach to short-term mitigation and long-term recovery could address some of the gender-specific dimensions of COVID-related shocks and protect gains made on gender equality in recent years. In this brief, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) has compiled key policy-relevant findings for the short- and long-term recovery from the COVID-19 crisis of women-led businesses in low- and middle-income countries. These insights may help inform the design of programs and policies to support women-led businesses in the context of the current pandemic and beyond.
This RFP closed on February 12, 2021. Thank you to all who submitted applications.
In response to the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls, IPA launched the Women’s Work, Entrepreneurship, and Skilling (WWES) Initiative as part of RECOVR (Research for Effective COVID-19 Responses). The WWES Initiative combines data collection efforts, research projects, and policy work, focusing on two key themes: (1) women's work, entrepreneurship, and time use and (2) youth skilling and school-to-work transitions. The focus countries of this initiative are Kenya and Bangladesh.
Our Request for Proposals will support piloting, data collection, analysis, dissemination, and policy engagement activities. This document outlines full details about the RFP, including the process and timeline, application materials (including the application form and budget template), and driving research questions. Any questions should be directed to the SME team.
Business and employment around the world are being severely impacted by COVID-19, as 345 million full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs have been lost worldwide in the third quarter of 2020 alone and 45-53 percent of MSMEs worldwide anticipate falling into debt as a result of COVID-19. IPA conducted phone interviews with 1,357 respondents in mid-May 2020, 71 percent of whom were working before the pandemic hit. This brief summarizes results from the survey on business and employment and makes recommendations for job creation and economic recovery.
In sub-Saharan Africa, wage jobs are rare, and a vast majority of young people are engaged in low-productivity occupations. Many governments attempt to upgrade traditional apprenticeships to help improve youth opportunities for productive employment. There is limited evidence on the direct and indirect effects of these formal apprenticeships. This study evaluated the impacts of an apprenticeship program subsidizing formal apprentices placed in firms and offering them theoretical training.
En Afrique subsaharienne, les emplois salariés sont rares, et une grande majorité de jeunes occupent des emplois à faible productivité. De nombreux gouvernements tentent de moderniser les apprentissages traditionnels pour aider à améliorer les opportunités d’emploi productif des jeunes. Il existe peu de données sur les effets directs et indirects de ces apprentissages formels. Cette étude a évalué les impacts d’un programme d’apprentissage subventionnant les apprentis formels placés dans les entreprises et leur offrant une formation théorique.
Women remain disadvantaged in access to management positions around the world. We conduct a field experiment with 24 large garment factories in Bangladesh to test for inefficient representation of women among line supervisors. We identify the marginal female and male candidates for supervisory positions and randomly assign them to manage production lines. Three sets of results emerge: (i) extensive diagnostic testing at baseline reveal few skill differences between marginal female and male supervisor candidates; (ii) initially, marginal female candidates have lower productivity and evaluations from sub-ordinate workers, though after four to six months, these gaps disappear; and (iii) the share of the female candidates retained as line supervisor after the trial is significantly higher than the share of female supervisors in the factories at baseline. This suggests that factories previously promoted fewer women than would have been optimal. Additional surveys and a lab-in-the-field experiment suggest that the initially worse performance stems from negative beliefs of workers about the abilities of female supervisors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools around the world, forcing school systems and students to quickly attempt remote learning. A rapid response phone survey of over 1,500 high school students aged 14 to 18 in Ecuador was conducted to learn how students spend their time during the period of quarantine, examine their access to remote learning, and measure their mental health status. The data show that 59 percent of students have both an internet connection at home and a computer or tablet, 74 percent are engaging in some online or telelearning, and 86 percent have done some schoolwork on the last weekday. Detailed time-use data show most students have established similar daily routines around education, although gender and wealth differences emerge in time spent working and on household tasks. Closure of schools and social isolation are the two main problems students say they face, and while the majority are mostly happy, 16 percent have mental health scores that indicate depression.