The Curionomist Podcasts | #2: “Cow-dropping” vs Entrepreneurship in the North

It’s been a while since my last podcast, over 2 months ago. In this 2nd podcast, I share some reflections from recent visits to Jaffna, Vavuniya and other parts of the Northern Province.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetMore needs to be done to support entrepreneurship in the North. I feel that years of donor interventions may have hurt entrepreneurship here. Successive rounds of donor projects have “gifted” assets to people, but paid little attention to help them make productive use of these assets. For instance, some projects have given machinery and training, but not thought about helping with access to markets to sell what they make. Diary projects have similar problems. A colleague I was travelling with jokingly called this the “cow dropping syndrome”. So many donors have given free cows to families and hoped that this would improve livelihoods and incomes. Little attention had been paid to help them become ‘dairy entrepreneurs’ instead.

Listen to the full podcast below, or go to Soundcloud



One thought on “The Curionomist Podcasts | #2: “Cow-dropping” vs Entrepreneurship in the North

  1. What refreshing ideas! I wonder whether “cow droppings” don’t work in part because they are not targeted? I.e., cows are given to people uninterested in dairy farming or people without entrepreneurial aptitude. An earlier study showed that modest targeted inputs could work: see, e.g., de Mel, S., McKenzie, D., Woodruff, C. 2012. One-time transfers of cash or capital have long-lasting effects on microenterprises in Sri Lanka. Science, 335: 962-966. On a wider scale, I wonder what impact the vast inflows of cash from Sri Lanka’s workers in the Middle East have had. These have gone on for a generation now, so their effects should be measurable (?). The idea that cash inflows of this kind are a perverse incentive to shirk work was new to me. I wonder whether , at a macro level, foreign (or even domestic) aid works in a similar way, e.g. by governments becoming reliant on aid rather than tax revenue.

    Keep up the good work!

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