Learning to See a World of Opportunities
Nationwide lockdowns and social distancing strategies in response to COVID-19 threaten the daily operations of small businesses, undermining a critical--and often only--source of daily income for vulnerable populations. Sudden economic hardship, psychosocial risks, and uncertainty about the future trigger stress, anxiety, and fear among impacted populations. In response to the pandemic, imagery can be leveraged as a tool of resilience to recognize the temporariness of the pandemic, mentally simulate different contingency plans in response to the pandemic, and identify steps that would enable rapid recovery. Between July and December 2019, we implemented a ten-session entrepreneurship and imagery training through a randomized control trial with 1967 vulnerable microentrepreneurs in Bogotá, Colombia. At baseline, our sample was already facing critical financial insecurity and high exposure to past traumatic events. Through a phone survey six months post-intervention, we reveal whether imagery is an effective buffer strategy against the negative economic and psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the intention to fill an important data gap and inform policy responses in a timely manner.