PEP-PAGE project

Beyond technical skills training:
The impact of credit counselling on entrepreneurial behavior of Ugandan youth

This team’s policy engagement from the earliest stages of the project helped inform policy decisions related to the Ugandan government’s Youth Unemployment Strategy and led to significant promotions for the team members. Find out more below or in the team's PEP Impact Brief.

Research objectives and method

A team of local researchers in Uganda investigated how entrepreneurial risk tolerance determines credit demand amongst young entrepreneurs, and the impact that credit counseling has on their borrowing decisions.

Their study aims to provide a deeper understanding of the personal factors associated with risk tolerance and the effect that credit counseling has on young entrepreneurs’ willingness to use credit for business expansion.

The research team undertook an experimental evaluation of the impact of "business and credit counselling" on a sample population of (600) eligible beneficiaries of the Youth Venture Capital Fund (of UGX 25 billion) - commonly called the "Youth Fund".

Since 2011/2012 the Ugandan government has made the Youth Fund available, through participating banks, to support the growth of viable and sustainable SMEs owned by young (18-35) entrepreneurs.

While the Youth Fund has received an overwhelming response – with up to a 100% uptake rate in some collaborating banks – there is concern that certain categories of youth, including those with adequate business skills training, remain hesitant to access this fund and exhibit low morale for business expansion credit. This project aims to examine the related behaviours and provide evidence in order to adapt the design and implementation of this and related policies/programs.

Through an experimental approach, involving a randomized controlled trial (RCT), this project examines:

  • The determinants of entrepreneurial risk tolerance among youth,
  • The extent to which risk aversion affects subsequent demand for credit among youth, and
  • The impact of credit counseling on borrowing choices of young men and women in Uganda

The evaluation measures entrepreneurial risk tolerance using primary data from an entry interview and real-life risk simulation involving a random sample of young men and women eligible for the Youth Fund.

The research contributes to the current policy debate regarding the need for further interventions, extending beyond standard business and technical skills, to promote youth entrepreneurship and employment. The research also aims to advocate for the inclusion of credit counseling in the business training curriculum of Uganda.


Policy consultation and engagement

Since the earliest design stages of the research project, the PEP project team has consulted with or involved multiple governmental and policy institutions. These consultations allowed the team to design a project that would respond to specific policy needs in terms of the evidence base and coordinate with current practices. The institutions consulted were:

  • Office of the Prime Minister
  • Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development
  • Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development
  • Uganda Investment Authority
  • Ministry of Education and Sports

The team's initial consultations allowed the research team to review the existing mechanisms put in place by the Ugandan government aiming to address the youth unemployment problem.

Following the selection of the proposal, the team sought the collaboration of stakeholders (below) to help inform how the project should be conducted, its objectives, methods and expected outcomes, to ensure responsiveness to policy needs.

  • Centenary Bank
    • Provided the expertise of loan officers to deliver mentoring on the loan applications process.
  • UNICEF-Uganda
    • Provided the U-report: a social mobilisation platform for the recruitment of participants in the study. They also supported the dissemination of the outcomes of the study.
  • Enterprise Uganda
    • Gained better capacity in executing tracer studies and impact evaluations of their initiatives. They also had the chance to develop a customised module for training youth entrepreneurs in risk management.

Following their consultation with the Government Evaluation Subcommittee/Facility (GEF), the National Evaluation Subcommittee (ESC) invited the team to present regular project progress briefs. The ESC is one of the management tiers overseeing evaluations commissioned under the GEF.

The team made two initial presentations to the Committee to inform them of the research progress – receiving, in return, feedback and expert advice on technical aspects of the project. Further consultations were also undertaken in an effort to establish collaborative arrangements with key institutions.


Policy impact

Following these presentations, it was indicated that the team’s research findings will contribute, as an evidence base, to inform policy decisions related to the Government’s Youth Unemployment Strategy. The findings would also be used as a case study of one of the few attempts to apply randomized evaluation to public policy in Uganda.

UNICEF has also shown great interest in the team’s research findings. A representative of the UNICEF Civic Engagement Team said that the study would be strategically relevant to the emerging dialogue on youth partnerships in the 2015-2020 UNICEF Uganda Country Programme.


Sharing new knowledge

Thanks to the team’s work to consult with and involve key stakeholders from the outset of the research project, they were able to disseminate their findings widely.

  • As a result of the team’s presentations to the ESC, the team was invited to present the project and work progress to a select audience of relevant Ugandan policymakers during the National Evaluation Week. The event was organized and coordinated by the Government Evaluation Facility, at the Office of the Prime Minister, in May 2014.
  • Through its mobilization role, UNICEF-Uganda has shown great interest in supporting the study and increasing its visibility at the national level by helping to disseminate the evaluation results. The project team leader also collaborated with UNICEF's Chief of Social Policy and Evaluation to help produce a policy brief that has been disseminated to stakeholders in the government. 

The team held their own national policy conference (organized with support from PEP and in collaboration with the Uganda National Evaluation Association) to discuss their findings and policy recommendations.

Among the participants were senior policymakers, managers and technical staff from the Government of Uganda as well as representatives of non-government organisations, evaluation experts and researchers. The conference allowed the team to reach a key audience that has particular influence over regulations and policy regarding credit counselling in Uganda.

During the event, the team received many insightful comments from top policy actors such as the representatives of Uganda Evaluation Association Members, Youth Venture Capital Fund, Youth Livelihood programs and The Green Jobs Program.

Following the conference, representatives of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development requested that the research team present their findings and submit policy recommendations to the senior management of the Ministries.

The event also enjoyed significant media coverage with Uganda’s national broadcaster and a national newspaper reporting from the conference. Three other national television networks also covered the event.

Additionally, the team has disseminated their research work and findings internationally. The team was invited to present their project during an international conference on “Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa (YESSA), organized by IDRC in Dakar, Senegal, in January 2014. More recently, the team leader was invited to present the evaluation results at the African Growth and Development Policy (AGRODEP) impact evaluation workshop organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), held in March 2016, in Washington D.C. 


Building and promoting new expertise in Uganda

As for all projects supported under PEP’s PAGE initiative, team members received intensive training in their chosen research methodologies during the PEP Annual Conference prior to final selection of their project. Juliet Ssekandi and Zeridah Zigiti received training in RCT methods during the 2013 PEP Annual Conference in Cape Town, South Africa.

Given the complexity of the team’s experimental approach, their mentor—PEP Resource Person, Maria Adelaida Lopera—also visited the team to help the set up the experiment.

Combined with the technical training sessions, support from their PEP mentor meant that the team developed their expertise in experimental methodologies throughout the research project.

The team members then shared their experience with colleagues in their respective institutions, thereby contributing to the long-term capacity building impact of this project

Thanks to the success and high quality of their PEP project, the team received further funding from East African Social Science Translation Collaborative to conduct a collaborative study between East African Principal Investigator and researchers of University of California, Berkeley. The study aims to evaluate the Makerere University-based Innovation Systems Clusters Program for Uganda

As a result of team’s consultation activities, which led to a high level of exposure for the researchers and their specialized expertise, each member greatly benefited in terms of their career with promotions and appointments to influential roles, such as senior government economists. Several members were also selected to conduct further research using the methodologies they had developed during the PEP project.

The team leader was appointed by UNICEF to localize innovations in favour of youth engagement and employment. She was also hired to help coordinate the ECS quarterly meetings in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Evaluation of Capacity Development Project.

Project links and documents

Research team

Find out more about this project - its analytical approach and outcomes - through the following links/documents:
  • Ms. Juliet Nassozi Ssekandi
    Programme Specialist, UNICEF-Uganda
  • Mr. Benjamin Kachero
    Economist, Office of the Prime Minister
  • Mr. Daniel Joloba
    Business Manager, Enterprise Uganda
  • Mr. Galiwanga Samuel
    Senior Economist, Office of the Prime Minister
  • Ms. Zeridah Zigiti
    Principal Economist, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development
PEP project PIERI-12451 Impact brief (PDF)
Working paper 2016-22 (PDF) Policy brief 151 (PDF)

PEP-PAGE projects

The project described above is one of the several projects selected for support under the PEP research and capacity building initiative for Policy Analysis on Growth and Employment (PAGE) in developing countries. The PAGE program is co-funded by UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and Canada's International Development Research Center (IDRC).

This project was selected in June 2013, following the first of three competitive calls for proposals of the PAGE initiative. Find out more about the PAGE program

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