Can Basic Entrepreneurship Transform the Economic Lives of the Poor?
The world’s poorest people lack both capital and skills and typically engage in insecure and often seasonal occupations where they labor for others. 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 This shift, which persists and strengthens after assistance is withdrawn, leads to a 38% increase in earnings.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.