Business Registration in Malawi Experimental Data and Replication Files 2011-2015
We conduct a randomized experiment in Malawi to test three alternative approaches to formalizing firms: a) assisting firms to obtain a business registration certificate that offers access to formal markets but imposes no tax obligations; b) assisting firms to obtain both this business registration and tax registration; and c) supplementing the assistance to obtain business registration with a bank information session intended to help firms utilize one of the key potential benefits of formalizing. This dataset consists of a baseline, four rounds of follow-up surveys, administrative data, and replication files for replicating the results of the paper "How should the government bring small firms into the formal system? Experimental evidence from Malawi"
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
We target firms in urban Lilongwe and Blantyre, the major commercial cities in Malawi. At the end of 2011, we listed over 100 business centers - that is, concentrations of firms including industrial parks, markets, streets with shops, set of workshops, etc. - and randomly sampled 46 of these business centers (23 in each city) to list all businesses operating within these areas.
Unit of Analysis
Producers and sponsors
Authoring entity/Primary investigators
International Initiative for Impact Evaluation
Private Enterprise Development in Low Income Countries
Bank Netherlands Partnership Program
Strategic Research Program
Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality
Investment Climate Impact Program
In this study we target the informal micro and small enterprises that are likely to be able to benefit the most from business registration, and that the government has said would be their first group of interest for a future road-show on business registration. We target firms in urban Lilongwe and Blantyre, the major commercial cities in Malawi. At the end of 2011, we listed over 100 business centers - that is, concentrations of firms including industrial parks, markets, streets with shops, set of workshops, etc. - and randomly sampled 46 of these business centers (23 in each city) to list all businesses operating within these areas. Through this process we listed 7,603 enterprises, 85 percent of which were not registered at the DRG. With this process, we excluded from the sample household-based enterprises.
To draw the sample for the baseline, we stratified the listing data by location and gender of the business owner and identified 3,600 firms that complied with one of the following criteria: (i) had at least one worker contracted outside of family members and business owners, (ii) were operating in a fixed location with more than one person working in the business, (iii) were at the 25th percentile of revenues or above. Through this process, we completed a detailed baseline survey for 3,002 informal firms, of which 1,195 were female-owned and 1,494 were from Lilongwe.
Dates of Data Collection (YYYY/MM/DD)
Mode of data collection
Type of Research Instrument
Baseline questionnaire and four follow-up questionnaires attached
Public use for non-commercial purposes
Campos, Francisco, Markus Goldstein and David McKenzie (2018) "How should the government bring small firms into the formal system? Experimental evidence from Malawi", World Bank Policy Research Working Paper
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.