Improving Entrepreneurs’ Access to Information: A Randomised Controlled Trial on Marketing and Financial Information for Small Firm Owners in Rwanda

This research seeks to address a significant constraint to growth among private enterprises in low income countries: access to business information.

Few low-income countries’ (LICs) micro and small enterprises maintain records of their financial performance (e.g. revenues, expenditures, profits) and even fewer track their marketing performance (e.g. products, customers). These small firm owners therefore lack the metrics and analytics needed to understand their business contexts and make strategic decisions to overcome constraints or take advantage of opportunities. While fear of theft, family demands or government taxation may cause some entrepreneurs to avoid record keeping of any kind, previous research has found that many entrepreneurs simply do not know what to record or how to organise the information in a way that allows them to make effective and strategic business decisions. This project seeks to assess whether business performances increase thanks to business information.

Six months prior to the intervention, a baseline survey (i.e. a screening survey) will be conducted to identify a sample of 1,500 more established and growth-oriented business owners in and around the greater Kigali area. Participants will then be randomly assigned into one of three groups. Group 1 will receive the “MONEYmanager” tool, which is designed to encourage entrepreneurs to pay attention to their internal business activities in a strategic and systematic manner. Group 2 will receive the MARKETmanager tool, which encourages entrepreneurs to pay attention to marketing functions and their external business environment in a strategic and systematic manner. Lastly, group 3 will serve as control group. Post-intervention data on all participants’ business performance and practices will be collected 12 months and 18-24 months after the baseline survey to analyse what effect the tools had on enterprise growth.

This research is important to policymakers wishing to stimulate more vibrant private sectors in low income countries and, in turn, lead to greater formal employment and income generation among the poor. Improvements in entrepreneurial outcomes would provide a way of “helping people help themselves”. If shown to be effective, the ICT tools tested through this project could represent a cost-effective and scalable way of stimulating growth among smaller, less formal enterprises in LICs.