Business training programs aren't the way to improve business according to research. Chris Blattman, an economist whose work I love to read, strafes entrepreneuship programs on his blog. No doubt, if your goal is measurable profit growth in someone's business, the papers out there indicate that a $100 cash grant achieves that better than a $1000 business class.
C-BED might be a step forward because it's much lower-cost than other business programs. The ILO fronts the work of making the training materials, which are written by consultants in the office here. Not counting the sunk cost of the training materials (which I don't have information on and won't hazard a guess on just now), the cost of a C-BED workshop is the cost of hiring the venue and any materials.
Another difference of C-BED is the approach the project has taken to teaching and learning: it's peer-based learning. The materials are really meant to get the participants talking to one another, rather than communicating a dogma of "best practices". So to the extent that participants are sensitive to similar issues in the business landscape, they may help one another develop strategies, or some may share working strategies with others, better than a business course written by the ILO consultants in Geneva. Does a simple means to bring people together for focused discussion produce measurable business improvements, as good as or better than other interventions?
Finally, C-BED works in impoverished communities: it was rolled out as part of a package of aid in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, with Burmese refugees in Thailand, and in areas of Burma affected by conflict. To some extent the gains we record in our surveys may be a low baseline of activity presaging strong growth.
Bottom line: when we find means to bring people together for collaboration, rather than a rigid class curriculum, do we get better outcomes?