Estimating the Demand for Entrepreneurship Programmes: Experimental Evidence from Jamaica

Is it possible or desirable to charge a positive price for entrepreneurship programmes?

How should business training programmes be priced? Billions of dollars are spent subsidising entrepreneurship programmes around the world, and most of these programmes are offered for free in developing countries. However it is not clear that offering these programmes for free to everyone is the optimal solution. Firstly, charging a positive price could help screen those entrepreneurs with the highest returns from the programme. Second, entrepreneurs paying a positive price might be more likely to attend the training, to exert more effort in the learning process and to adopt the practices recommended by the programme. Finally, a positive price can help providers of the entrepreneurship programme improve financial sustainability.

This project is the first RCT to estimate the demand for a business training programme. It will provide valuable lessons about the possibility and desirability to charge a positive price for these programmes. The trial will estimate the demand for entrepreneurship programmes in Jamaica by eliciting willingness to pay (WTP) for an entrepreneurship programme using a variation of the BDM mechanism. It will estimate returns to the programme and test whether those returns vary with WTP. Conclusions from this experiment will be of great policy value to determine whether WTP can be used to better target business training programmes.