Implementation and Impact Evaluation of Entrepreneurship Support Services in Jamaica
There has been growing interest in approaches to business training that incorporate insights from psychology to develop soft skills associated with successful entrepreneurship. The empirical evidence on their success, however, is still inconclusive. This study designs and evaluates two training programs focusing on soft skills, which are adapted to the Jamaican context. The first program provides soft-skills training on personal initiative, including the development of a proactive mindset and perseverance after setbacks. The second program combines soft-skills training on personal initiative with traditional training on hard skills aimed at changing business practices. Both programs are evaluated using a randomized controlled trial design involving 945 entrepreneurs in Jamaica. Findings indicate positive effects of the intensive soft-skills training, but not of the training combining soft and hard skills, on business outcomes (i.e., sales and profits) in the short-term (i.e., three months after the implementation of the trainings). The positive short-term effects of the soft-skills training are concentrated among men and are not significant for women. These effects, however, vanish when measured 12 months after the trainings. Nonetheless, the soft-skills training show persistent positive effects on some targeted soft skills, which are measured with both self-reported and incentivized measures.