A randomized control trial with 945 entrepreneurs in Jamaica shows positive shortterm impacts of soft-skills training on business outcomes. The effects are concentrated among men, and disappear twelve months after the training. It is argued that the main channel is increased adoption of recommended business practices, exclusively observed in the short run. There are persistent effects on an incentivized behavioral measure of perseverance after setbacks, a focus of this training. A comparison is drawn with a course focused only on soft-skills to one that combines soft-skills training with traditional business training. The effects of the combined training are never statistically significant.
Business outcomes (i.e., sales and profits) and development of soft skills, such as perseverance, overcoming barriers, and grit.
Being offered the combined training (business practices + personal initiative) does not lead to any positive changes for participant firms, on neither business practices nor business performance in the short or the longer run. One year after the programme, business owners offered the personal initiative training show a more developed entrepreneurial mindset (perseverance, personal initiative, future orientation and capacity to overcome barriers). Three month after the training, the rate of adoption of recommended business practices is 20% higher among firms offered the personal initiative training (compared to firms not offered any training). They are also more likely to have introduced a new product or producing technique, and have higher sales and profits. The short run effects of the personal initiative training on business practices and performance vanish one year later. However, the short run effects on profits alone compensate for the cost of the training (US$ 212 per participant) within three months. None of the training shows robust effects on use of inputs, or access to credit. Both men and women entrepreneurs offered the personal initiative training show higher rates of business practices adoption three month after the training. However, the positive short run effects on sales and profits are concentrated among men, with the training not triggering better performance for women-led businesses.