‘Means-Focused’ training more effective at identifying innovative opportunities

A recent study undertaken by the SIRLab team in partnership with Canadian Feed the Children’s MILEAR project in northern Ethiopia suggests that a ‘Means-Focused’ approach is more effective than an ‘End-Focused’ approach to training rural entrepreneurs to identify more novel business opportunities.  Such conclusions were drawn after analyzing data from a series of training sessions that were conducted with 177 entrepreneurs in Kemise, Ethiopia in which half were randomly assigned to one of several ‘Means-Focused’ sessions and the other half to ‘Ends-Focused’ sessions. The ‘Ends-Focused’ sessions had participants undertake a series of group exercises in which entrepreneurs experimented with coming up with new business ideas by focusing on the resources and capabilities they had at hand. Comparatively, the ‘participants in the Ends-Focused’ sessions were tasked with identifying novel business opportunities by focusing on gaps between supply and demand in the market.  Following the training sessions, all participants were asked to complete an individual exercise to test their subsequent ability to identify as many new business opportunities as possible in a given scenario over a period of 10 minutes.  The results suggest that the ‘Means-Focused’ approach was more successful than the ‘Ends-Focused’ approach overall, and particularly more effective for female participants and for individuals who have had limited exposure to other geographic contexts.



SIRLab Team