The challenges inherent in supporting the self-help efforts of the chronically hungry poor beg for innovation to achieve greater scale, impact and sustainability. With our commitment to such innovation comes our commitment to rigorous research that puts our innovations and those of other organizations to the test of evidence from the field. We are pleased to make our research reports available to all who are interested in evidence-based innovation. Generally, these reports have also been published in part in technical journals and other publications, but seldom are full research reports accepted for publication. Therefore, we make our full research reports, as well as summaries, freely downloadable in PDF format to provide you the full details of the research projects—social and institutional context, objectives, design and implementation of the innovation being tested, research design, methods, analysis, results, discussion in light of relevant literature and conclusions. These reports are listed below in chronological order, starting with the most recent and working backward in time. Most reports have been translated into French and/or Spanish, originally for the benefit of the in-country institutions that have partnered with Freedom from Hunger in developing and researching these innovations. In the absence of full translations, summaries in French and/or Spanish are usually available. Whatever we have is available now for free download. We sincerely hope you will find these research reports useful for broadening your understanding of value-added microfinance and related innovations.
An innovative and scalable approach, health financing by microfinance institutions can expand existing health-financing options for the poor. We examined healthcare-seeking behavior, health costs and health-financing methods among microfinance clients in Bolivia, Benin and Burkina Faso. Health costs and lost productivity were substantial. Clients benefit from assistance, including health savings, health loans and health micro-insurance. Microfinance institutions offer advantages in developing health-financing options: global reach, expertise in loans and savings, and their mission to facilitate household financial stability. Health-financing products hold considerable potential but require careful design to optimize value and minimize risk to clients.
Over the past few years, microfinance has been widely heralded as a successful contributor to the alleviation of poverty. Scores of studies have shown the positive impact that microfinance can have on the lives of poor people. However, overall progress has been disappointing. Achievement of poverty alleviation goals will call for new and innovative ways of working rather than more of the same. A strategic, overarching strategy to address poor people's interrelated needs through creative partnerships that build on the best of different development sectors has the potential to lead to exponential rather than incremental reduction of poverty in the developing world. Evidence now supports the integration of microfinance with non-financial services as an approach that has potential for enormous contribution to poverty alleviation. This chapter will focus on the opportunities and challenges for microfinance organizations providing these integrated services. It also will provide supporting evidence that shows promising financial and health benefits of integration for the poor and the institutions that support their self-help efforts.
Integrating microfinance and health strategies: examining the evidence to inform policy and practice
Introduction Single solutions continue to be inadequate in confronting the prevalent problems of poverty, ill health and insufficient health system capacity worldwide. The poor need access to an integrated set of financial and health services to have income security and better health.
Leveraging microfinance networks to scale up HIV and financial education among adolescents and their mothers in West Bengal: a cluster randomized trial and mixed-method evaluation
Microfinance can be used to reach women and adolescent girls with HIV prevention education. We report findings from a cluster-randomized control trial among 55 villages in West Bengal to determine the impact of non-formal education on knowledge, attitudes and behaviors for HIV prevention and savings. Multilevel regression models were used to evaluate differences between groups for key outcomes while adjusting for cluster correlation and differences in baseline characteristics. Women and girls who received HIV education showed significant gains in HIV knowledge, awareness that condoms can prevent HIV, self-efficacy for HIV prevention, and confirmed use of clean needles, as compared to the control group. Condom use was rare and did not improve for women. While HIV-testing was uncommon, knowledge of HIV-testing resources significantly increased among girls, and trended in the positive direction among women in intervention groups. Conversely, the savings education showed no impact on financial knowledge or behavior change.
Introduction – In 2003, when Microfinance Opportunities and Freedom from Hunger partnered to develop a financial education curriculum for the microfinance industry, there was very little experience with financial education for low-income populations in developing countries—and most specifically, for microfinance institution clients. Microfinance Opportunities joined with Freedom from Hunger to launch the Global Financial Education Program to respond to this gap. The education development was a grassroots effort that started with market research in which clients shared their financial goals and challenges, and their current knowledge, skills, attitudes and practices as related to managing money. As a result of this program, a unique curriculum tailored to lowincome populations in developing countries was developed. Within two-and-a-half years, approximately 350,000 microfinance clients have received training in financial education, and 19 million have had access to some of the key education messages presented through radio, television, print and street theater.