Low productivity is a pervasive among small and medium-sized enterprises operating in low income countries and serves a major roadblock to economic growth. Among the challenges, the difficulty of writing effective contracts with employees is an understudied cause. This project uses technology in Kenya’s informal transportation sector to allow for employee monitoring, easier contracting, and increased productivity and safety.
The research team has created a monitoring device for vehicles that is considerably cheaper, more flexible, and more powerful than traditional tracking devices. In collaboration with Echo Mobile, the team has built a new powerful platform (www.smartmatatu.com) which expanded the company’s capacities to include extensive field operations such as equipping matatus with tracking devices, daily survey panel creation, and maintenance.
With this technology, the team has run a randomized controlled trial in the informal transportation sector in Nairobi, Kenya, which is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises hiring matatu drivers on a daily basis. Matatu owners receive information on driver performance via SMS, and changes in contracts, productivity, and safety as a result of this monitoring device are documented. It is expected that this technology will be marketable will lead to longer, performance-based contracts, increased productivity, and safer driving. Results forthcoming.
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