Evidence to Policy, a monthly note series on learning what works, highlights studies that evaluate the impact of programs in the critical areas of human development --health, education, social protection, water and sanitation and labor. From how to best supply rural health clinics with drugs to what helps students do better in school, World Bank-supported impact evaluations provide governments and development experts with the information they need to use resources most effectively. As impact evaluations increasingly become more important to policymakers, this series offers a non-technical review of the many innovations the World Bank is supporting, and the growing number of rigorous studies analyzing the impacts of those innovations. The note series is managed by SIEF, which receives generous funding from the British government's Department for International Development and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).
Training vouchers and microfinance tools are often used by multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, and governments to increase employment and business oppor¬tunities in low- and middle-income countries. An alternative is putting cash directly in the hands of the poor themselves, leaving them to decide how best to use the money for income-generating activities. One of the assumptions underlying these programs is that poor people can generate high returns to capi¬tal but often have trouble saving money and accessing credit. Giving people cash enables them to bypass these obstacles to starting or improving a business. Recent studies have found that simply giving people cash can improve incomes, at least in the first few years, and the cash is very rarely squandered or misused. However, very little is known about the effectiveness of start-up grants in the long run.
In Tunisia, an evaluation of a program to provide university students with entrepreneurship education and assistance in developing a business plan, found that the program increased self-employment in the short term. However, four years after finishing the program, these same students weren't any more likely than students who didn't take the program to be self- employed. Limited access to capital was a key challenge that many of the program's graduates said they faced.
In Kenya, the World Bank supported a pilot program to give unemployed youth access to job training and private sector internships.
In Turkey, researchers from the World Bank worked with the government to evaluate the impact of the Turkish National Employment Agency's (ISKUR) vocational training program to reduce unemployment. Based on the results, the government increased courses by private providers and took steps to ensure the quality of the offerings.
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What's the most effective way to reintegrate ex-combatants and reduce illegal activities? This policy note reviews an innovative program that had a big impact.
In Uganda, researchers evaluated a government program that gave unsupervised cash grants to youth for small business development and training. Based on final results four years after the intervention, the cash transfers achieved nearly all the goals. Beneficiaries invested most of the cash in building business opportunities. While they still did agricultural work, they spent more time working in skilled industry and services and their incomes rose. (View 2011 policy note on the study)
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In Tunisia, the World Bank worked with the government to evaluate a program designed to give university students entrepreneurship training and assistance developing a business plan. The evaluation found that the program increased self-employment and helped students develop some skills associated with successful entrepreneurship.
Also available in French
In order to build evidence of what works, the World Bank funded the Jordan NOW pilot program, which was designed to encourage employment of female college graduates in Jordan through wage subsidy vouchers and soft skills training. Built into the project was an evaluation to measure the impact. Researchers found that vouchers did boost employment—but only for as long as the vouchers were valid. After that, the new hires were let go or left their jobs. The training didn’t show any significant effect on employment.
Researchers evaluated a Kenyan program to use vouchers to encourage young adults to enroll in vocational training programs. The research showed that this was effective at promoting enrollment -- and that those who received vouchers that could be used for a private institution were more likely to sign up and stay in school.