Business Training and Female Enterprise Start-up and Growth in Sri Lanka

A research project examining the impact of business training and capital grants on existing and potential female enterprises. A baseline and four follow-up surveys of around 600 current female enterprise owners and 600 unemployed but potential self-employed females in 10 Divisional Secretariat divisions in 7 districts. ILO-developed business training (through a business consulting firm) was administered and cash treatments to randomly selected enterprises.


“Business Training and Female Enterprise Start-up, Growth and Dynamics: Experimental Evidence from Sri Lanka”

We conduct a randomized experiment among women in urban Sri Lanka to measure the impact of the most commonly used business training course in developing countries, the Start-and-Improve Your Business (SIYB) program. We study two groups of women: a random sample operating subsistence enterprises and a random sample out of the labor force but interested in starting a business. We track impacts of two treatments – training only and training plus a cash grant – over two years. For women in business, training changes business practices but has no impact on business profits, sales or capital stock. The grant plus training combination increases business profitability in the first eight months, but this impact dissipates in the second year. Among potential startups, business training hastens entry – without changing longer-term ownership rates – and increases profitability. We conclude that training may be more effective for new owners.

Published in Journal of Development Economics, Vol. 106, January 2014, pp. 199-210.
A previous version of this paper is available as IZA Discussion Paper No 6896, October 2012. (downloadable from