From informal to formal high growth ventures

This exploratory research aims to investigate and identify outcomes and growth of incubators in Botswana, Namibia, Kenya and Uganda.

Business incubators are generally considered an effective mechanism to enhance and facilitate new ventures' growth. Scholars have primarily focused on the evolution of incubation and/or on a specific element of the process. Yet, despite the broad range of theoretical perspectives that have been suggested for investigating different aspects of business incubation (examples include transaction cost economics, theory of economic development through entrepreneurship, network theory, etc.), literature in this field disregards the perspectives and characteristics of incubatee entrepreneurs. Hence, notwithstanding the growth of research in this domain, there is still a need to understand “how” and “why” incubatee firms grow in a business incubator environment.

The study, therefore, will try to contribute to the literature investigating differences in outcomes and growth of incubators in Botswana, Namibia, Kenya and Uganda. In particular, it will focus on whether such differences can be attributed to country specific factors, individual factors and/or process factors. To do so, the authors will employ both a qualitative and a quantitative approach. First, they will map out incubators in the participating countries by type, age and number of alumni companies to understand the magnitude of the concept and how incubators are established, managed and funded. This first approach will provide insights into youth’s involvement, the difference between the diverse gender composition of teams, and their interaction. Second, they will conduct a randomized controlled experiment to assess the causal impact of incubators on ventures. During the screening for acceptance into the incubators, the researchers will randomly select ventures for acceptance (“treated” group) or not (“control” group). These two groups will be followed and compared over time to determine if selected ventures create their firm and generate jobs and revenues.

Exploiting these two approaches, the authors will be able to identify the teams/ventures achieving the best results and then pinpoint what made them successful. This information is key to policymaking, as the findings may be used to lower the rate of failed companies, reduce the resources requirements on the incubators and increase overall efficiency. Besides, the data could be used to help support inclusive policies in terms of having a minimal number of women or youths in teams.