The impact of an edutainment program broadcast on a popular Egyptian television channel and specifically designed to promote entrepreneurship among young adult viewers is measured. A randomized controlled trial following a non-symmetric encouragement design is implemented to measure the impact of the intervention on viewers’ attitudes towards self-employment, knowledge of the Egyptian entrepreneurial ecosystem, professional aspirations, and professional choices. The design allows us to identify the importance of peer effects within groups of friends. Several conclusions are reached. First, while the show had some impact on viewers’ attitudes toward self-employment, its impact is much more limited on the other three sets of outcomes. The impact of the intervention is particularly important on respondents’ gender-related beliefs associated with self-employment. Second, we find some evidence of complex peer effects, alternately amplifying and mitigating the direct effect of a respondent’s exposure to the intervention. Third, while some of the intervention’s impacts seem to be welfare-improving, others are more ambiguous from a welfare perspective. These results emphasize the importance of the nature of the messages conveyed by media programs, the way in which these are conveyed, as well as how they can be perceived by a heterogeneous population.
Perceptions of entrepreneurship, knowledge about self-employment, professional career aspirations, and career choices
The show positively impacted gender-related beliefs, with viewers more likely to agree that women are able to successfully run their own businesses. This effect is particularly strong for those from sociodemographic categories who held more discriminatory beliefs to start with - men with few years of education. At the same time, viewers reported that the level of competition and gender discrimination against women in entrepreneurship is not as high as they initially thought. It is unclear, though, if this is the result of a distortion caused by the show not conveying a representative image of what it is like to start and run a business, or a convergence of viewers’ prior beliefs to reality. The show had no effect on the perception of the importance of other barriers to entrepreneurship, like lack of funding, lack of skills or complicated country regulations, that were already perceived as more hindering before the show. The show did not improve the knowledge about the business support ecosystemthe likelihood of viewers choosing self-employment as their preferred career option or taking any steps to set up a business.