Looking beyond financing constraints, one important question is whether micro-business owners are only life-style entrepreneurs, being self-employed in the absence of salaried opportunities, or have growth aspirations. Among a representative
sample of retail shop owners in Jakarta, Patricio, Julius Rueschenpoehler
and Bilal Zia find that the average business has strong short- and long-term aspirations for growth in shop size, number of employees customers, and sales. Yet, there is also pronounced heterogeneity, with more than half of the businesses
reporting no aspirations for growth in the next 12 months, and 16 percent failing to imagine an ideal business over the long-term. However, there might be opportunities for such micro-entrepreneurs to learn from successful peers. Patricio, Julius, Burak and Bilal test such opportunities
with an RCT among the same group of retail shop owners in Jakarta. They identify local best practices and disseminate the information through a handbook tailored to their business culture. Eighteen months after the intervention, they find that the handbook
alone does not lead to significant performance gains, while documentary videos and individualised help from peers significantly improve sales and profits, up to about 35% compared to the control group. These findings show that business growth can be
achieved through disseminating local knowledge in ways that are simple, cost effective and scalable.