Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Past Journeys of Inquiry

Main content start

2019 - 2020 Academic Year

Role of Technology in Emerging Economies: Investigating Micro-Entrepreneurs, Policymakers and Culture in Africa

Business, Entrepreneurship, and Work

The majority of micro entrepreneurs in developing countries do not maintain records of their business performance, and therefore lack the metrics and analytics (business intelligence) needed to understand their business contexts and make strategic decisions to overcome challenges or take hold of opportunities. Professor Anderson and his team have found from prior research that many entrepreneurs simply do not know what to record (the metrics) and, once recorded, they do not know how to organize the information (the analytics) in a way that allows them to make effective business decisions. To address this issue, Professor Anderson and his team have designed an easy-to-use business information tool that uses mobile phone technology to increase an entrepreneur’s ability to track, access and take action on business intelligence. For most developing country entrepreneurs, having access to this type of business intelligence represents a novel capability and, thus, could lead to lasting improvements in formal record keeping and raise awareness of important business metrics and benchmarks. This research project used a randomized controlled trial (RCT) study design to measure the impact on business performance of the novel information technology tool that increases access to business information for a sample of growth-oriented entrepreneurs in Rwanda. They examined whether providing entrepreneurs with information and analytics on their own business performance and activities enables them to make more strategic business decisions that lead to higher profitability, increased employment and growth.

Through this Journeys of Inquiry trip, the Stanford research team immersed students into the world of private sector development in emerging global cities in Rwanda and Kenya. By meeting with small retail business owners and the multinational corporation executives that transact with them, students developed an intimate understanding of constraints to firm growth and how promising entrepreneurs can overcome them. By talking with politicians and policymakers at the World Bank, they gained practical insights into how public programs that help the most vulnerable and disadvantaged entrepreneurs are developed, lobbied for, funded and executed. This was an excellent opportunity for students interested in business, poverty and/or development to learn about policy program formation and evaluation through experiments and see their impacts live-in-action.

Faculty supervisor: Stephen Anderson, Graduate School of Business
Locations: Kigali, Rwanda and Nairobi, Kenya
Date: September 2019


2018 - 2019 Academic Year

Private-Sector Development in Emerging Economies: Investigating Micro-Entrepreneurs, Policymakers and Corporations in Mexico City

Business, Entrepreneurship, and Work

Across emerging economies, sectors like retail tend to be dominated by millions of tiny traditional businesses that do not grow into large, modern firms. Given this situation, researchers and policy makers have been examining how to stimulate growth and modernization for such small-scale entrepreneurs with the aim of achieving both broad impact (e.g., better economic and social outcomes at a national level) and deep impact (e.g., creation of decent jobs and sustainable household benefits). A research team from Stanford GSB (consisting of Professor Stephen J. Anderson, Professor Sridhar Narayanan and doctoral student Shreya Kankanhalli) is exploring how to grow and modernize small-scale retailers in Mexico through two field experiments involving thousands of firms. One experiment contrasts the effect of improving customer-facing business structures to improving back-end business structures; the other experiment studies the effect of providing e-payment technology to traditional retailers. The field experiments are being run in partnership with the World Bank and Mexico’s Ministry of Finance -- two stakeholders with a strong interest in increasing the productivity of the retail sector in Mexico.

Through this Journeys of Inquiry, the Stanford research team immersed students into the world of private sector development in an emerging global city, Mexico City. By meeting with small retail business owners and the multinational corporation executives that transact with them, students developed an intimate understanding of constraints to firm growth and how promising entrepreneurs can overcome them. By talking with politicians and policymakers at the World Bank, they gained practical insights into how public programs that help the most vulnerable and disadvantaged entrepreneurs are developed, lobbied for, funded and executed. This was an excellent opportunity for students interested in business, poverty and/or development to learn about policy program formation and evaluation through experiments and see their impacts live-in-action.

Faculty supervisor: Stephen Anderson, Graduate School of Business
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Date: June 2019


2017 - 2018 Academic Year

The Corporate Governance of India

Business, Entrepreneurship, and Work

The winter quarter class, "Global Organizations: Managing Diversity and the Matrix of Change" was a study of the corporate governance system of India and, in particular, the importance and implications of the family-oriented, corporate control of Indian firms for firm performance.  Over spring break, students traveled to Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Mumbai to visit major family-owned firms, institutionally-owned firms, representatives of the institutional regulatory system, the stock market, financial sector, start-ups, as well as representatives of the major families that control some of the main Indian firms.  The purpose of this Journeys of Inquiry trip was to further students' understanding of how firms are governed and managed in family-owned firms and the implication for outside and inside investment, as well as for the management and organization of the firm.  

Faculty supervisor: Eva Meyersson Milgrom, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR)
Location: Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Mumbai, India
Date: March 2018


Research and Quantitative Work with Innovations for Poverty Action


Faculty supervisor: Pascaline Dupas, Department of Economics
Location: Ghana
Date: September 2017