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2018 - 2019 Summer Undergraduate Full-time RAs

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2018 - 2019 Academic Year

Assessing the Impact of Digital Marketing Training for Entrepreneurs in Kenya

Small-scale businesses are important players in the enterprise ecosystems of developing countries and substantial economic growth can occur if significant numbers of small-scale businesses increase their productivity and transition into small or medium enterprises. Yet, the reality is that few developing country firms manage to grow and scale-up. Our research addresses the critical question of how to spur business growth among small-scale entrepreneurs in Kenya.

Many small-scale entrepreneurs in developing countries lack knowledge of how to leverage digital technologies for growth (e.g., digital marketing, online sales). This lack of digital business skills can be a significant constraint to growth in today’s digital economy. Our research aims to shed light on this problem – and potential solutions – by examining the effectiveness of a novel business development intervention. We are partnering with one of the largest banks in East Africa to investigate whether and how a digital vs. non-digital business skills training improves business growth among entrepreneurs in Kenya. This research project is using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) study design to compare the effectiveness of a standard, general business skills program to a new training approach leveraging digital technologies and emphasizing digital marketing and online sales.

Faculty supervisor: Stephen Anderson, Graduate School of Business 
Locations: Nairobi, Kenya
Local community partnerEquity Group Foundation
Research assistants: Connor Hogan, '22, computer science (major), Nyana'aar Kuol, '22, bioengineering and economics (majors)


Randomized Experiment with Small Scale Retailers in Mexico to Study Impact of Modernization (Customer-facing, Back-End and Technological) on Business Performance

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 the Stanford Graduate School of Business, consisting of Professor Stephen J. Anderson, Professor Sridhar Narayanan, and PhD 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.

Faculty supervisor: Stephen Anderson, Graduate School of Business 
Locations: Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico 
Local community partnerFundes 
Research assistants: Jose Antonio Avalos, '21, public policy (major), Merrell Guzman, '20, economics (major)


Randomized Experiment with Small Scale Firms in Rwanda to Study Impact of Analytics on Business Performance 

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. We 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, we 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 is using 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. We will examine 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.

Faculty supervisor: Stephen Anderson, Graduate School of Business
Location: Kigali, Rwanda
Research assistants: Micah Wheat, '22, international relations (major), Stone Yang, '22, symbolic systems (major)


Blasphemy Laws and Discrimination in Indonesia

This research opportunity, which is part of Stanford’s Cardinal Quarter initiative, is offered through a partnership between Stanford’s WSD HANDA Center for Human Rights and International Justice and its main partner NGO in Indonesia, the Institute for an Independent Judiciary (LeIP). This research would involve working with LeIP on a project, funded by the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta, that builds upon previous research on the increasing use of blasphemy laws to suppress or discriminate against minorities and marginalized groups. The project will involve research leading to training tools and policy recommendations on the full range of human rights issues and their interaction with the Indonesian Electronic Communications Law and the Criminal Defamation Law. Our research will provide the basis for revising the human rights curriculum module in the National Judicial Training Center and National Prosecution Training Center. Another research direction will involve developing human rights training materials for a USAID sponsored initiative in collaboration with the Council of ASEAN Supreme Court Chief Justices. Students will be part of the collaborative effort between LeIP’s research team and the Handa Center. Activities will also include participating in capacity building workshops for civil society emphasizing evidence-based advocacy. The intern would be based at the LeIP office in Jakarta from approximately June 20- September 10.

Faculty supervisorDavid Cohen, Department of Classics
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia 
Community partnerInstitute for an Independent Judiciary
Research assistants: Alisha Zhao, '21, political science (major), human rights and history (minors), Melodie Liu, '20, history (major)


Exploring Stakeholder Views and Strategies to Improve Sustainability of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Services in Rural Healthcare Facilities in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

In early 2018, the United Nations Secretary-General put out a global call to action to establish universal water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in all healthcare facilities. This came in the wake of a 2015 report by the World Health Organization that revealed 38% of healthcare facilities in low- and middle-income countries lack access to water, 19% lack sanitation, and 35% do not have adequate soap and water for handwashing. The current project is part of a larger grant to address sustainability of WASH services in rural healthcare facilities with an emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa. Student researchers will facilitate focus group discussions in rural Uganda or Ghana that will inform our understanding of barriers to and possible solutions for sustainability of WASH services in these settings. The focus group discussions will involve stakeholders at various levels, including healthcare workers, facility managers, environmental engineers, NGO implementers, and district health officers. The results of the network maps and qualitative assessments will be used to develop a pilot program to address WASH sustainability across low-resourced healthcare facilities.

Faculty supervisorsJenna Davis, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Stephen Luby, School of Medicine 
Location: Uganda and Ghana
Local community partnerWater for People
Research assistants: Dumisile Mphamba, '21, human biology (major), Harika Kottakota, '20, biology (major), human rights and African studies (minors)


Socioeconomic Impacts of Urbanization in Cote d’Ivoire

In recent years, African nations like Cote d’Ivoire have been experiencing rapid economic growth as well as high urbanization rates and urban sprawl, as people and businesses are moving from rural areas to capital cities and surrounding areas. Yet, there has been limited scientific analysis of a large set of issues that are peculiar to cities, such as urban poverty, employment/unemployment patterns, migration trends, firm characteristics, and urban governance. Most existing socio-economic surveys in Sub-Saharan Africa are largely focused on rural populations and many of them are cross-sectional. The Stanford Economic Development Research Initiative (SEDRI) intends to fill this gap by creating long-term panel datasets of households, businesses, and local administrators in peri-urban areas of multiple Sub-Saharan African countries. Under the guidance of senior Stanford economists and project staff, the summer undergraduate RA will help with need-finding and survey piloting in the greater Abidjan area. The work will include conducting exploratory interviews, gathering administrative data, preliminary data analysis, and report writing. The student will also be helping with data collection activities.

Faculty supervisorsPascaline Dupas, Department of Economics, and Marcel Fafchamps, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) 
Location: Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
Research assistant: James Juma, '22, management science and engineering (major)


Mapping the Evolution of Firms in Urban Ethiopia 

In recent years, African countries have been experiencing rapid economic growth as well as high urbanization rates and urban sprawl, as people and businesses are moving from rural areas to capital cities and surrounding areas. Comprehensive firm panel data in sub-Saharan Africa is scarce, and the Stanford Economic Development Research Initiative (SEDRI) intends to fill this gap by creating long-term panel datasets of businesses in peri-urban areas of multiple sub-Saharan African countries, starting with one of Africa's fastest-growing economies: Ethiopia. The objective of this panel is to map the evolution of firms at the periphery of Addis Ababa, an expanding large city in Africa. This comprises relatively young and dynamic firms, many of which are expected to grow into successful and established businesses.

Under the guidance of senior Stanford economists and project staff, the summer undergraduate assistant will help with the survey data collection activities. The work will include following up the data collection, conducting exploratory interviews, gathering administrative data, cleaning the survey data, and preliminary data analysis.

Faculty supervisorsPascaline Dupas, Department of Economics, and Marcel Fafchamps, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) 
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


The Impact of Technology-based Rapid Hiring in Entrepreneurial Ventures in Thailand 

One of the major challenges for entrepreneurs is hiring the initial team to turn their ideas into prototypes and initial products. Particularly, for entrepreneurs who are not located in the epicenter of entrepreneurial activities, it becomes a major trial. Often times investors demand to see a working prototype before making an investment decision. The problem is almost like a double-edged sword – entrepreneurs need financial resources to hire employees and build the initial product, but they need employees and initial product to secure financial resources. Given financial and reputational constraints, attracting talent becomes so cumbersome that many entrepreneurs have to quit their promising ideas even before the ventures officially take off. In this study, we propose to develop a “gig economy” platform for entrepreneurs enabling them to seamlessly recruit, form, hire and possibly fire “flash teams” of workers in entrepreneurial ventures. We will develop a software platform and run a few accelerator programs in Thailand and would measure the impact of our platform on their performance. Under the guidance of Professor Chuck Eesley, the summer undergraduate research assistant (RA) will help with conduct surveys with entrepreneurs attending the accelerator and gather performance data of the enterprises. The work will also include conducting interviews, preliminary data analysis, and report writing.

Faculty supervisorCharles Eesley, Department of Management Science and Engineering
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Research assistants: Yanichka Ariunbold, '21, computer science (major), Arianna Togelang, '22, economics (major), human rights (minor), Peter Karnchanapimonkul, '19, mathematical and computational science (major)


Folk Musicians Research Project

There are over 100,000 folk musicians in India; songs are inherited between generations and so is the profession of being a singer. Qawwali is one such category of folk music, which originated 700 years ago as a form of Sufi devotional music at the shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi. Currently there are at least 150 groups of singers of this lineage in Delhi, but these singers have been struggling to make ends meet over the last few decades. In recent years, folk musicians are faced with decreased earnings as the traditional patronage system has disappeared and audiences lack exposure to folk music. With the availability of low-cost and easy-to-use recording devices, recorded music made available through online platforms could be an important tool to increase the market and earnings of folk musicians. Folk musicians can also reach a much wider audience if they gain some visibility through creative collaborations with contemporary musicians. We hope to assess the impact of these two interventions on the earnings and outreach of musicians using both qualitative, interview methods as well as field experimental methods.

Faculty supervisorAruna Ranganathan, Graduate School of Business
Locations: Delhi, India