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Microfranchising in Nairobi hits the BBC

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Photo credit: Sophia Jones-Mwangi/IRC This week, the BBC and the International Rescue Committee blog both featured a project that I am evaluating together with coauthors Maddalena Honorati and Pamela Jakiela.  IRC approached us because they were interested in conducting a rigorous impact evaluation of their project.

Here are a few of the things IRC has to say about its project:

"NAIROBI, Kenya —

In many ways, 19-year-old Susan Kayongo is a typical Kenyan teenager. Brought up by her grandmother in Eastleigh, one of Nairobi’s poorest neighborhoods, she did well in primary school but could not afford to continue her education. Her future looked bleak, like so many young women in her country with little education and work...

Susan partnered with nine other teenagers like herself to open the Downtown Salon. Located in a repurposed freight container left behind in the inner city, the parlor is surprisingly inviting, its white walls decorated with bright posters of trendy cuts. The women sell beauty products and hair extensions as well as style hair."

The evaluation is still in its early stages, so for now, we won't delve into the program impacts.  Because IRC's program provides not only training and startup capital, but also a template business model for young women to follow, we are curious how the effects of this program differ from those found in existing evaluations of other microcredit and microenterprise interventions.  If the lack of a viable business plan constrains the effectiveness of capital interventions, then providing one might have a large impact.

In the mean time, here is a BBC audio interview with one participant:

And here is a longer description at IRC's blog:

The impact evaluation is ongoing, but we hope to have preliminary results in 2013. Stay tuned!

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