35 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2015 Last revised: 10 Feb 2021

See all articles by Marcel Fafchamps

Marcel Fafchamps

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

Simon Quinn

University of Oxford

Date Written: April 2015


We gave US$1,000 cash prizes to winners of a business plan competition in Africa. The competition, entitled ‘Aspire’, was intended to attract young individuals aspiring to become entrepreneurs. Participants were ranked by committees of judges composed of established entrepreneurs. Each committee selected one winner among twelve candidates; that winner was awarded a prize of US$1,000 to spend at his or her discretion. Six months after the competition, we compare winners with the two runners-up in each committee: winners are about 33 percentage points more likely to be self-employed. We estimate an average effect on monthly profits of about US$150: an annual profit of 80% on initial investment. Our findings imply that access to start-up capital constitutes a sizable barrier to entry into entrepreneurship for the kind of young motivated individual most likely to succeed in business.

Suggested Citation

Fafchamps, Marcel and Quinn, Simon R., Aspire (April 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21084, Available at SSRN:

Marcel Fafchamps (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Simon R. Quinn

University of Oxford ( email )

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