Economists have long believed that Entrepreneurship is is key element of economic growth and development. While a substantial literature has focused on who becomes an entrepreneur and improving the productivity of enterprises, little work has focused on creating entrepreneurs.
This paper reports the results of an at-scale randomized intervention that trained very recent high graduates in soft and hard entrepreneurial skills in Uganda.
High graduates were randomly assigned to participate in a 3-week mini MBA the summer following graduation. There were two versions of the min-MBA: a hard skills version that emphasized traditional subjects such as finance, accounting, marketing, etc and a soft skills version that empathized communication, persuasion, negotiation and leadership, etc. Participants were recruited from 200 randomly selected high schools and randomly assigned to one of 40 training located around the country. Slightly more than 3-years after the training, participants in the both treatment groups exhibited substantially higher knowledge of business hard skills and substantially better non-cognitive skills (Big 5), stress and self-esteem.
Participants in the soft-skills course additionally were better at persuasion and negotiation lab in-field experiments. Both treatment groups were more likely to start enterprises and better business practices, but only the soft skills groups’ enterprises demonstrated higher profitability. In addition, the skills obtained in the training appear to be well rewarded in the wage as the wage rate of both treatments groups were substantially higher than of the control group. Finally, the intervention are highly beneficial relative to costs