New Grameen Foundation survey: Learning to love impact evaluations?

In 2009, the results from the first randomized control trials in microfinance were released – and they’ve been stirring up controversy ever since. The studies’ failure to find a strong causal link between financial access for the poor and poverty reduction spawned a particularly heated debate between microfinance practitioners and advocates versus researchers.

While all of the parties share the same goal of improving lives, team advocate has shown reluctance to embrace the results, continuing to point to anecdotal evidence (in joint written statements no less), while team research has stuck to its guns, emphasizing the potentially positive outcome of these trials – i.e., the opportunity to understand how to better serve poor clients.

That’s why we’re pleased to see the Grameen Foundation highlight the role of rigorous impact research in its new report: Measuring the Impact of Microfinance:  Taking Another Look. While the Foundation did publish the first version of this survey back in 2005, we hope this update signals a new chapter in the industry’s response to impact research, and look forward to Grameen’s next steps – running some control trials perhaps?