Marcel Fafchamps


Marcel Fafchamps is Professor of Development Economics in the Economics Department at Oxford University. He is also a Professorial Fellow at Mansfield College and serves as Deputy Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies.

He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of California at Berkeley for which he won an Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis Award from the American Agricultural Economists Association. Except for a quarter teaching at the University of Chicago in 1995, he spent the period between September 1989 and the summer of 1996 teaching at the Food Research Institute. After that he moved to the Department of Economics at Stanford where he taught for two years, before going on sabbatical leave in the Research Department of the World Bank. He has been in the Department of Economics of Oxford University since July 1999, except for a sabbatical year spent in the Department of Economics at Harvard (2005-6).

Current Research Initiative as part of the PEDL project:

Piloting an Internship Program for Young Ethiopian Entrepreneurs

There is a growing interest in learning whether providing training in entrepreneurial skills can play a role in stimulating the emergence and growth of new firms in developing countries: we want to look at training in a broader context by considering the potential benefits of ‘learning by doing’ on the job, rather than merely studying entrepreneurial skills in a classroom context. Our study will also shed light on other important issues: for example whether improving aspiring entrepreneurs’ “networks”, i.e. their connections to established firms, can improve their prospects for success.

In earlier work, we conducted a “business ideas” competition for aspiring entrepreneurs in Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam and Lusaka. The competition was open to aspiring entrepreneurs aged 18-25, and the ideas were judged by managers of established manufacturing firms. As part of this earlier work, we sampled aspiring young entrepreneurs; across our three study cities, we have a sample of about 500 young people, all of whom developed and presented a specific business plan as part of the business ideas competition. This is a unique and unusual sample: as we learned when running the business ideas competition, it is unfortunately not easy to find a large number of aspiring young entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa. We will use this sample to study the value of internships for encouraging young entrepreneurs to develop their business ideas and entrepreneurial abilities.

Young entrepreneurs will each spend a month as an intern in a management-related position within an established firm. Participating firm managers will spend time discussing firm operations with the intern, and may have the intern assist in management-related tasks (for example, in reviewing draft accounts, assessing new marketing opportunities, etc.). This is intended to provide an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to see management techniques in their practical implementation, rather than simply studying them in the abstract. We are interested in learning (i) whether established firms are willing to take interns, and whether £500 remuneration is a reasonable sum to induce firms’ participation, (ii) whether firm managers are willing to share business expertise with aspiring entrepreneurs, (iii) whether aspiring entrepreneurs are interested in an internship as a way of learning relevant business skills, and (iv) whether aspiring entrepreneurs feel that the program was worthwhile. We will carry out a pilot using a sample of 30 firms, which will together accept a total of between 30 and 60 aspiring entrepreneurs. If the program proves viable, we would then intend to seek additional funding to expand to a larger sample for a full randomised control trial of these internships.

Recent Publications:

Matching in Community-Based Organizations, in collaboration with Jean-Louis Arcand Journal of Development Economics, 2012 (forthcoming)

Impact of SMS-Based Agricultural Information on Indian Farmers, in collaboration with Bart Minten World Bank Economic Review, 2012 (forthcoming)

Development, Agglomeration, and the Organization of Work, Regional Science and Urban Economics, 2012 (forthcoming)

Development, Social Norms, and Assignment to Task, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011 (forthcoming)

Self-Help Groups and Mutual Assistance: Evidence from Kenyan Slums, in collaboration with Eliana La Ferrara Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2011 (forthcoming)

Matching and Network Effects, in collaboration with Sanjeev Goyal and Marco van der Leij Journal of the European Economic Association, 8(1): 203-31, January 2010