We study the medium-term impacts of the Skills for Effective Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) program, an innovative in-residence 3-week mini-MBA program for high school students modeled after western business school curricula and adapted to the Ugandan context. The program featured two separate treatments: the hard-skills MBA features a mix of approximately 75% hard skills and 25% soft skills; the soft skills curriculum has the reverse mix. Using data on 4,400 youth from a nationally representative sample in a 3-arm field experiment in Uganda, the 3.5 year follow-up demonstrated that training was effective in improving both hard and soft skills, but only soft skills were directly linked to improvements in self-efficacy, persuasion, and negotiation. The skill upgrade was rewarded by substantially higher earnings; 38.7% and 21.2% increases in earnings for those who attended hard- and soft-training, respectively, largely generated through self-employment. Furthermore, youth in both groups were more likely to start enterprises and more successful in ensuring their businesses’ survival. The program led to significantly larger profits (27.8% and 34.8% for hard- and soft- treatment arms respectively) and larger business capital investments (72.5% and 58.8% for SEED hard and SEED soft, respectively). Both SEED curricula were very cost-effective; one (two) month’s worth of extra earnings as a direct consequence of having attended the SEED hard (soft) program would exceed its total cost. These benefits abstract from the job- and business-creation benefits of the program, which were substantial: relative to the control group, SEED entrepreneurs created 985 additional jobs and 550 new businesses.
Demographic outcomes (e.g., education, self-assessed present and future social standing and wealth standings, time use); labor market indicators (e.g., labor force participation, entrepreneurial success, wage and self-employment earnings, business investment, access to lending); business knowledge and business/management practices; self-reported and task-based measures of soft skills (e.g., negotiation, persuasion, patience, selfefficacy, stress, grit).
The programme increases hard skills knowledge for all participants. Although right after the programme, participants in the hard skills focused training out-perform participants in the soft skills training, this gap vanishes 3.5 years after. In the short term, the programme improves soft skills knowledge for all participants, and especially for those in the soft skills focused training.
In the medium-run this translates in all participants having higher plasticity, stability and managing stress better. However, only participants in the soft skills focused training show greater levels of self-efficacy and better persuasion and negotiation skills. Three and a half years after the training, participants are more likely to be economically active by 10% if they participated in the hard-skills focused training and by 7% if their training focus was on soft-skills, with these differences being largely driven by training participants being 19% more likely to be self-employed.
Youth in both training schemes are 10 to 11 percentage points more likely to start and run enterprises that survive over time. They also create more transformative and profitable ventures that grow beyond an individual's subsistence needs. Businesses have larger profits (28% to 35% higher), capital investments (59% to 73% higher), and create around 25% more jobs.
As a result, the programme also increases participants’ overall earnings, those being 38.7% and 21.2% higher for the hard and soft skill treatments, respectively. These differences are mainly driven by higher business profits.