Business Development Services

Effectiveness of Training and Technical Assistance

Understanding the role of business development training and technical assistance as a centerpiece of U.S. microenterprise development organizations, one of FIELD’s earliest grant clusters was designed to understand the relationship between these training and technical assistance services and the business outcomes experienced by clients. Most specifically, its intent was to identify those program components, or elements of program design or delivery, that are most related to client success.  Toward that end, in June 1999 field awarded two-year grants to five organizations to conduct research aimed at better understanding what constitutes effective training and technical assistance services.

Key Findings

Through this cluster, FIELD identified 17 specific findings regarding client characteristics and program practices that can influence business outcomes. In addition, FIELD identified a number of implications for those interested in improving their program design and delivery. These findings and program implications are contained in the monograph:
Improving Microenterprise Training and Technical Assistance: Findings for Program Managers (see below).

In brief, the research projects supported under the cluster identified a set of client characteristics associated with training completion and business success including:

  • Business ownership and/or exposure to business ownership in a family,
  • Relevant work experience,
  • Personal support systems and encouragement,
  • Access to a basic infrastructure (reliable transport, driver's license, telephone, computer and bank account), and
  • Clarity of goals and business idea.

The research also identified the following program components that are associated with client success:

  • Strong training in business planning, basic financial skills and marketing,
  • Special attention to teaching pricing skills,
  • Business plan completion,
  • Class assignment completion and training completion (so helping clients make it through is very important),
  • A dynamic, participatory training style,
  • Providing technical assistance during the first 12 to 24 months after core training, and a mechanism that encourages clients to access the service,
  • Additional support on marketing and accounting, and
  • Business consulting focused on strategic planning and decision-making as well as on specific technical skills.

The research in this cluster yielded a rich set of findings about how to assess and improve the effectiveness of microenterprise training and technical assistance.  These findings, as well as the research tools and approaches that yielded them, are documented in the following publications:

Learning Cluster Members
The five projects selected to receive grants and participate in this learning cluster are briefly described.

Learning Evaluation
The learning evaluation for this cluster had three major components, which are described here in detail.