Effects of Business Networks on Firm Growth in a Cluster of Microenterprises: Evidence from rural Ethiopia

Author Name ISHIWATA Ayako  (University of Tokyo) /Petr MATOUS  (University of Tokyo) /TODO Yasuyuki  (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. March 2014 14-E-014
Research Project Empirical Analysis on Determinants and Impacts of the Formation of Firm Networks
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Poverty reduction in rural Africa necessitates diversification of income sources from agriculture to nonfarm activities. Clustering of micro-enterprises in rural areas can promote nonfarm income. This study examines the determinants of growth in sales and skill levels of microenterprises in a tailor cluster in rural Ethiopia, focusing on the role of business networks. We collected panel data, including measures of business networks through procurement, outsourcing, and financing, for three years from 136 firms, the population in the "survival" cluster. The results show that when firms are closer to the center of business networks, i.e., firms are characterized by a higher centrality measure, they are more likely to increase sales. However, although network centrality is also associated with a higher level of tailoring skills, the skill level itself has no significant effect on sales. The finding implies that consumers in the area are not concerned much about the quality of products. Therefore, while expanding business networks can promote sales and skill levels, incentives to upgrade skills are minimal.