The impacts of microfinance as a tool for achieving widespread poverty reduction are more complex and variable than previously believed. That’s one of the conclusions of the debate ‘Impact of microfinance: Taking stock of evidence’ at the Annual Conference of MicroNed on 28 June 2011. The Conference report has been published.
A wide range of representatives at the conference provided differing perspectives on impact (104 people joined us). Even the relatively simple and neutral objective of the conference to “take stock of evidence” proved difficult – with academics, researchers and practitioners applying different criteria of quality and usefulness.
The impact of microcredit is highly variable and any overall judgement is unclear. The early wave of positive results has been replaced by more rigorous yet more modest evidence of outcomes. Quantifiable studies that have attempted to attribute impact of programmes have provided little evidence that microcredit alone will achieve poverty reduction.