Project Description


In cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO) South Africa, we conducted an impact assessment of the entrepreneurship education program in high schools of the Free State Province, South Africa.

Youth unemployment is a major concern in many countries. Globally, the youth unemployment rate was 13.1 percent in 2013 with 74.5 million youth (aged 15-24) being unemployed according to the International Labour Organization (2014 figures). In South Africa, youth unemployment figures exceed 30 percent and even reached nearly 50 percent in the Free State province (South African SME Observatory, 2013). Only 1 percent of the youth in South Africa are formal entrepreneurs, which is significantly lower than in most other African countries. In countries where youth unemployment is so high, entrepreneurship education is increasingly considered as an important strategy towards tackling the unemployment challenge.


StartUP&go, an innovative entrepreneurship education program implemented by the International Labour Organization South Africa, was introduced in the business studies course for students in grade 10, 11 and 12 in high schools in Free State Province. Its overall objective was to foster a more entrepreneurial mindset among young men and women. The desired outcomes of the project encompassed: a) improved attitudes towards the merits of entrepreneurship, b) increased entrepreneurial intentions and c) more young people starting formal enterprises, i.e. higher levels of entrepreneurial activity among youth. The new program was based on experiential learning methodologies, such as entrepreneurship games and business simulation exercises, which had been fully aligned with South African curricula for business studies.

Based on panel data collected among 16,000 students, the entrepreneurship education module was evaluated with regard to its impact on school performance, attitudes towards entrepreneurship and employment status. A quasi-experimental approach (difference-in-difference estimation) was taken, since the 60 treatment schools were not permitted to be randomly selected. The evaluation was based on a type of quadruple differences approach; exploiting the fact that treatment was only introduced in some classes of 10th cohort, whereas the other classes, the 11th and 12th graders as well as the 10 control schools serve as control schools, thereby also permitting various types of pseudo-treatment tests/placebo treatment tests, coupled with an analysis of sample selection to ensure the robustness of results. The short-term results of the impact evaluation indicated an increase in the number of students wanting to start their own business after completing high school and in the number of students thinking that starting their own business would be a good career choice for them.