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In Uganda,

the Small Firm Diaries team is conducting two randomized controlled trials. The first, led by Emma Riley (University of Michigan), seeks to understand the effect of participating in financial diaries studies with a group of female micro entrepreneurs in Kampala markets, and the second, led by Lore Vandewalle (Geneva Graduate Institute), is testing an intervention to remove market barriers to growth among carpentry firms.


A working paper on the results of the first study is expected in autumn 2024. The authors preview the findings as follows: 


In a randomized controlled trial conducted in Kampala, Uganda, Odgen and Riley (2024) investigated the impact of financial diaries on the businesses of female retail entrepreneurs. The study compared the effects of financial diaries alone to a combination of diaries and a fortnightly report summarizing key business metrics (including sales and expenses) alongside the entrepreneur's goal for that metric. The findings revealed that the sole use of financial diaries had limited impact, whereas a significant positive effect was observed when diaries were complemented with fortnightly reports.


Women who received diaries and reports saw an increase in business sales, expenses and profits. They also saw large improvements in record keeping, inventory management and a reduced likelihood of business closure. Notably, this group exhibited a greater likelihood of achieving their business goals, leading to the setting of higher subsequent goals and creating a positive feedback loop between goal difficulty and achievement. They were also more realistic about their business sales and expenses.


There were no effects on business outcomes of the diary alone without the report, though women also reported improvements in record keeping and inventory management.


This study highlights that just encouraging record-keeping, even with regular visits from an enumerator to support record keeping, is not sufficient to lead to improvements in women's business outcomes. Rather, the key lies in providing them with tools, in this case reports, to effectively utilize their records, monitor progress toward goals, and thereby motivate them to achieve and surpass their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Citation: Ogden, T and Riley, E. 2024. Digital record-keeping and reporting for female entrepreneurs in Uganda. Unpublished manuscript.


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