Exposing young adults to successful women entrepreneurs can help correct detrimental beliefs regarding the capacity of women to run successful businesses.
A mainstream television show broadcast on a major channel following the journey of 14 contestants to become successful entrepreneurs. It uses the challenges they face to disseminate educational content on entrepreneurship.
- To change viewers’ beliefs and perceptions of self-employment
- To improve viewers’ knowledge of the entrepreneurship support ecosystem
- To nudge viewers’ professional aspirations and career choices
This intervention was tested in a country where most households own a TV (97 per cent) and 40 per cent of the population watch TV for more than four hours a day. The youth unemployment rate is high (40 per cent overall), particularly among women (over 60 per cent), and the share of entrepreneurs is particularly low (4 per cent). Young people and, particularly, young educated individuals tend to strongly favour employment in the public sector.
Young adults aged 18 to 35 that watch TV at least from time to time and are interested in starting a business. Mostly men (83 per cent).
- Show episodes: Thirteen episodes in which fourteen contestants face, in teams, a series of challenges to test their entrepreneurial skills. Each episode includes educational and entertaining content stressing the importance of various entrepreneurial skills, like planning and marketing, and important business concepts like business plans, profits and customers.
- Role models: Contestants are recruited from various socio-demographic groups (in terms of gender, ethnicity, religion, region, etc.) to ensure that viewers can relate to and emotionally connect with at least one of them. For the same reason, throughout the episodes, different forms of self-employment are showcased.
- Support activities: In parallel with the show, networking events are held throughout the country in collaboration with partner business support organisations to bridge the gap between the show and the real world while providing support to viewers that take the plunge and attempt to start a business. A programme website provides information on the show and the partner organisations.
- SMS reminders: Text messages are sent weekly to remind participants to watch the show, browse the website and test their knowledge of the show.
- The show positively impacted gender-related beliefs, with viewers more likely to agree that women are able to run their own businesses successfully. This effect was particularly strong for those from socio-demographic categories who held more discriminatory beliefs to start with – men with few years of education.
- Viewers also reported that the level of competition and gender discrimination against women in entrepreneurship wasn’t as high as they initially thought. It’s unclear whether that was the result of a distortion caused by the show not conveying a representative image of what it’s actually like to start and run a business or due to viewers’ beliefs converging with reality.
- The show had no effect on the perception of the importance of other barriers to entrepreneurship, like lack of funding, lack of skills and complicated regulations, that were already perceived as more hindering before the show.
- The show had no positive effect on viewers’ knowledge of the business support ecosystem, the likelihood of viewers choosing self-employment as their preferred career option or in terms of encouraging them to take any steps to set up a business.
- Exposing young adults to successful women entrepreneurs, such as the show’s winner and the runner-up, can help to correct detrimental beliefs about the capacity of women to run successful businesses.
- Content and conveyed key messages of edutainment programmes aimed at changing people’s beliefs need to be carefully designed to avoid distorting viewers’ perceptions of reality, which might carry detrimental welfare effects.