Articles

Freedom from Hunger is committed to sharing what we learn with the rest of the field. Our expert staff members are regularly called upon to contribute commentary, articles and chapters for trade publications, technical journals and books.

We are pleased to provide the following list of published works authored or co-authored by Freedom from Hunger staff, past and present. These articles are generally available for free download in PDF format or via links to other websites. In some cases, articles have been published by journals that provide access only by subscription or purchase.

The titles are listed according to the date of publication, starting with the most recent articles. We provide complete citation information for the convenience of researchers wanting to cite the publication in their own work and provide access to French or Spanish versions, when available.

We sincerely hope you will find these articles useful for broadening your understanding of value-added microfinance and related topics.

Adding value to microfinance and to public health education—at the same time.

Dunford, Christopher. ADB Finance for the Poor (a quarterly newsletter of the Focal Point for Microfinance), 4 (4): 1–4. (December 2003). (English Only)

Abstract

The impact research in Ghana reinforced by the operations research in the Philippines shows that public health and microfinance objectives can be achieved at the same time with the same staff through careful integration of education and financial service delivery.

The experience of Freedom from Hunger indicates that the major ingredients for successful integration are found in the general capacity to manage people and programs and the specific institutional will to succeed in integrating services originating from different sectors of development. Where there is skill and will, each sector can add substantial value to the other for the benefit of very poor families.

Using microfinance to improve health and nutrition security.

Dunford, Christopher and Barbara MkNelly. Global HealthLink (News Magazine of the Global Health Council), 118:9, 22. (November–December 2002). (English Only)

Abstract

The impact evaluation research in Ghana provides evidence that microfinance and health/nutrition education services, provided together by the same field officer to groups of women, can alleviate poverty, improve health/nutrition knowledge and practice, empower women, and ultimately improve household food security and children’s nutritional status.

Improving design and performance of group lending: Suggestions from Burkina Faso.

MkNelly, Barbara and Michael Kevane. World Development, 30(11):2017–2032. (November 2002) DRAFT. (English Only)

Get the article through World Development via Science Direct (link will open in a new window).

Abstract

We summarize lessons learned by a credit program for women in Burkina Faso. Three observations are made regarding program design: 1) high membership turnover means mutual guarantee groups should be smaller and more central to non-repayment penalties; 2) high turnover in economic activities implies more training in best practices and more variety and experimentation in credit and savings mechanisms; and 3) high degrees of stocking activity suggests the need to develop instruments to mitigate commodity price risk at the individual and program level.

Three observations are made regarding program implementation: 1) be more consistent in the treatment of debts of deceased borrowers; 2) become more sensitive to the complexity and variety of procedures followed in the event of non-repayment; and 3) devote more attention to preventing and mitigating the effects of staff embezzlement.

Credit with Education impact review no. 2: Economic capacity and security.

MkNelly, Barbara and Mona McCord. 23pp. (September 2002). (English and Spanish)

PACTS’s women’s empowerment program in Nepal: A savings- and literacy-led alternative to financial building.

Ashe, Jeffrey and Lisa Parrott. Journal of Microfinance. 4(2):137–162. (Fall 2002).(English only)

Building better lives: Sustainable integration of microfinance with education in child survival, reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS prevention for the poorest entrepreneurs.

Dunford, Christopher. Chapter Two in Sam Daley-Harris, ed., Pathways Out of Poverty: Innovations in Microfinance for the Poorest Families, 75–131. (2002). Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press. (English Only)

This chapter provides diverse examples of microfinance institutions that have responded successfully to the challenge of integrating microfinance with non-financial services, without compromising the impacts or sustainability of their microfinance and overall operations.Special attention is given to the integration of microfinance with health education for very poor women, including the promotion of family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention management. The credit and education components reinforce each other by addressing the informational as well as the economic obstacles to health and nutrition. There is good potential for large-scale, self-financing delivery of microfinance and education together in one efficient and effective service package. The key element is delivery of both services by one field staff. This requires management to make an extra commitment to staff recruitment, training, and supervision. Where operating grants are available to support non-financial services, management may prefer to employ two specialized field staffs to deliver the two types of service in parallel to the same clients.

What’s wrong with loan size?

Dunford, Christopher. Freedom from Hunger discussion paper. 7pp. (2002). (English Only)

Get the article at Microfinance Gateway (link will open in a new window).

Abstract

Can an average loan size proxy can be maintained? This discussion paper argues very strongly that the average loan size proxy for depth of outreach being used by USAID is grossly inadequate.

It states that:

  • Current U.S. government legislation mandates that at least one-half of all USAID assistance for microenterprise development must be targeted to the poorest
  • To ensure compliance with the legislation USAID uses an average loan size of US$300 ($400 for Latin America and $1,000 for Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States) as a proxy indicator to determine whether MFI clients are amongst the poorest

The paper finds that only better-off clients apply for larger loans (for $3,000 for example) while there is no corresponding evidence showing that only the very poor apply for small loans. States that there is enough empirical evidence to suggest that this indeed happens and additionally, the average loan size criteria focuses only on credit and fails to acknowledge the fundamental importance for the very poor of savings-based programs and non-financial services.

Why set a threshold for service orientation to the very poor?

Dunford, Christopher. Freedom from Hunger discussion paper. 8pp. (2002). (English Only)

Abstract

Are the microfinance institutions serving the poorest? This discussion paper makes a case for orientation of microfinance institutions (MFIs) to the very poor. It advocates USAID's approach to promote micro-enterprise development (MED) instead of only micro-credit.

The author feels that USAID's approach to reserve 50% of its funds for spending on the very poor has two major flaws: lack of a credible system of measurement of the poverty level of MED service clients, and lack of direct linkage of poverty profile of grant applicants to grant-making decisions.

The author later explains why the poorest are being left out of the coverage of USAID programs. The reasons include lack of clarity on who is responsible for getting total portfolio of clients to the level of 50 percent "very poor,” lack of orientation of all the MFIs to poorest, and lack of incentives to the MFIs for reaching the poorest. The author concludes that the purpose of targeting half of the MED assistance resources to MFIs "oriented to the very poor" is to create incentive for institutions to work harder and more creatively in this direction.

Microfinance as a vehicle for educating the poor.

Dunford, Christopher. Development Bulletin, 57:111–114. (February 2002). (English Only)

Get the article at The Australian National University's Development Studies Network (link will open in a new window).

Abstract

Microfinance can be a powerful tool for giving the poor more economic options. However, the very poor need more than microfinance to address the causes and conditions of their poverty. Ideally, they would have access to a coordinated combination of microfinance and other development services to improve business, income and assets, health, nutrition, family planning, education of children, social support networks, and so on.

The question is how to ensure a ‘coordinated combination’ of appropriate services, especially in rural communities and other communities where multiple services are simply unavailable. Microfinance practitioners are often motivated to provide non-financial services to their clients, because they recognize the need and hear the demand. However, the legitimate concern for sustainability, interpreted as the financial viability of the microfinance service as a business, has made practitioners very cautious about non-financial add-ons. They believe that add-ons can only be a drag on the drive for sustainability. Where other, non-financial service organizations can provide these other services for the same clients, some microfinance practitioners have fostered referrals and common points of service with their non-financial counterparts. But most microfinance institutions (MFIs) feel compelled or prefer to focus solely on the financial needs of their clients and do not attempt to meet their non-financial ones. On the other hand, group-based microfinance provides a good opportunity to provide low-cost education services needed by the poor, if only to improve their performance as microfinance clients. This is especially true for village banking and related delivery systems (for example, Grameen Bank) that bring large groups of relatively poor clients together in regular meetings. Good, non-formal adult education techniques can be used effectively at these meetings to cover a variety of topics. Examples include promoting changes in child care, personal health habits, and use of local health services, as well as improvement of business skills that enable microfinance clients to put their loans to more productive use and generate more profit and savings.

Credit with Education impact review no. 1: Women’s empowerment.

MkNelly, Barbara and Mona McCord. 22pp. (October 2001). (English Only)

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