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Development Discussion Paper
Can Basic Entrepreneurship Transform the Economic Lives of the Poor?
Oriana Bandiera, Robin Burgess, Narayan Das, Selim Gulesci, Imran Rasul and Munshi Sulaiman April 2013
Paper No' EOPP 043:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: O12; I30; D50.

Tags: asset transfers; capital constraints; vocational training; occupational choice; structural change; poverty.

A new version of this paper has been published on August 2015 (Paper No EOPP 58). The world’s poorest people lack capital and skills and toil for others in occupations that others shun. 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 This shift, which persists and strengthens after assistance is withdrawn, leads to a 38% increase in earnings.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.