An Internship Programme for Young Ethiopian Entrepreneurs

There are several important questions concerning entrepreneurship in developing countries, such as how do entrepreneurial skills develop, and how important are personal connections for finding jobs in these countries? Building on a pilot internship programme for young entrepreneurs in Ethiopia, this project will test the hypothesis that entrepreneurial skills are learned experientially, and whether an internship improves the employment prospects of young educated Ethiopians.

Each week for 30 weeks, 25 young Ethiopians will be randomly assigned to internships in established firms. The programme will enable the research team to study whether the internship helps in developing managerial and entrepreneurial skills through observation and participation. The two channels of interest are whether the internship contributes to improved prospects of self-employment, or of salaried employment in managerial positions. Another element of study will be the impact of the internship programme on the firms themselves, as the programme can act as a direct subsidy for screening potential employees and can change firm beliefs about the potential pool of managers available.

Results from this study could suggest that experiential learning is important in the development of entrepreneurial skills, and could support the idea that internships are a viable policy intervention in low-income countries. Such interventions are relatively uncommon in developing countries, but can be simply and directly implemented by government agencies as mechanisms for building entrepreneurial skills and improving young people’s access to the job market. 

Authors

Simon Quinn

University of Oxford

Girum Abebe

Ethiopian Development Research Institute