No margin, No mission? A Field Experiment on the Role of Incentives in the Distribution of Public Goods

Principal Investigator, Nava Ashraf, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Nava’s project examines how business skills training and specific incentive schemes may increase women’s effectiveness as micro-entrepreneurs and as agents of change in their societies. In many countries, beauty and hair salons are owned and run by women. Typically, the women run one salon only, with little prospects for growth. Focusing on hairstylists in Lusaka, Zambia, Nava’s project offers new growth opportunities for these women that are also supporting larger societal goals. Specifically, and in collaboration with SFH, the Society for Family Health in Zambia, she will conduct a randomized field experiment with micro-entrepreneurs, hairstylists, to determine the best types of incentives for the promotion of health products - namely, female condoms which give women the ability to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. Owners as well as aspiring micro-entrepreneurs will be trained in business skills and HIV promotion to be able to be effective distributors of female condom products. Selling health products offers a new business opportunity to hairstylists and a new perspective on how even very poor people can “do well” by “doing good.”

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