Research Reports

The challenges inherent in supporting the self-help efforts of the chronically hungry poor require innovation to achieve greater scale, impact and sustainability.

Freedom from Hunger has always been committed to innovation backed up by rigorous research. Our research staff and collaborators put our innovations, and those of other organizations, to the test, employing a wide range of methodologies to ensure that they are supported by evidence from the field.

We are pleased to provide our research reports 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 the complete research reports accepted for publication. Therefore, we make our full research reports, as well as summaries, freely downloadable in PDF format.

These reports provide 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. The reports are listed below in chronological order, starting with the most recent reports.

Most Freedom from Hunger reports have been translated into French and/or Spanish for the benefit of the in-country institutions with which we have partnered to develop and test these innovations. In the absence of full translations, summaries in French and/or Spanish are usually available.

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

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: How Microfinance Institutions Can Track the Health of Clients. Health Outcome Performance Indicators (HOPI) Project Report (2015)

Gray, Bobbi. (2015). Freedom from Hunger: Davis, CA.


For microfinance institutions (MFIs) with social missions, understanding changes in client well-being has become more important as MFIs are held to task to demonstrate both outreach to the poor and improvements in their
lives. This paper has three primary goals: 1) to share experiences in selecting and pilot-testing a minimal set of health indicators among four MFIs, 2) to help MFIs choose among a set of tested indicators for monitoring client health outcomes over time, and 3) to summarize key recommendations for developing “standardized” client outcome monitoring indicators.

Leveraging the Strengths of Two Sectors to Achieve Widespread Change in Health and Poverty: A Business Case for Integrated Microfinance and Health Programs

Metcalfe M, S Hollingworth, K Stack, M Sinclair (2014). Freedom from Hunger: Davis, CA.


This paper cites fieldwork and multiple evaluations of client and institutional impact from a range of programs initiated by Freedom from Hunger over the past eight years, and from other practitioners and researchers who are leading the growing movement to link financial services with other essential services needed by poor families to overcome poverty and hunger. Since 2011, the collaboration between Freedom from Hunger and the Microcredit Summit Campaign to form a global alliance of health and microfinance practitioners has enabled the further dissemination and extension of this work, and has strengthened the message of its importance for the global goal of ending poverty.

Empowering Access to Improved Sanitation: Project Evaluation Report for Movimiento Manuela Ramos

Gray, Bobbi. (2015). Freedom from Hunger: Davis, CA


Access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation is essential to human health; for the poor, these are often out of reach. Between 2013 and 2014, Freedom from Hunger collaborated with Manuela Ramos in Peru to pilot a water and sanitation program that a) integrated a group-based nonformal education program called Healthy Families: Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene with their financial services; b) provided clients access to a loan product designed to facilitate a household’s access to sanitation products; and c) marketed and linked clients to either a full lavatory product that included a toilet connected to the local sewer system and a compost toilet. A program assessment was completed with a sample of clients and found there were improvements in client behaviors related to treatment of drinking water, household sanitation, and handwashing.

Pilot Project Report: Using Mobile Money to Link Savings Groups to Financial Institutions

Loupeda, Christian, Aly Ouédraogo and Megan Gash. (2015). Freedom from Hunger: Davis, CA.


Due to a growing need for both greater security for their funds and increased access to financial services for savings group members, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have started programs linking groups to formal financial services. After completing a promising feasibility study in late 2012, Freedom from Hunger formally initiated a pilot project to facilitate financial linkages to savings groups in Northern Burkina Faso (Passoré Province) via the Airtel Money product, in collaboration with Airtel Burkina and Ecobank Burkina. This pilot project has exhibited the eagerness of the partners involved and an increased demand for savings accounts by savings groups over time. Freedom from Hunger would like to replicate the experience in other countries in West Africa and assist other savings-group promoting organizations in developing financial linkages between savings groups and formal financial institutions.

Integrated Microfinance and Health in India, Volume II: the Way Forward

Somen Saha, D.S.K. Rao.


The Integrated Health and Microfinance in India, Volume II: The Way Forward highlights the context of integration of health and microfinance in light of India’s journey towards universal health care by 2020, to document best practices in integration, and to highlight potential interventions that can be adopted by microfinance institutions (MFIs) as well as by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that serve self-help groups (SHGs).

The latest volume of the report highlights the policy measures in the Indian microfinance sector since 2011, documents best practices towards integrating health and microfinance, and proposes an agenda for moving forward: a) public health systems and institutions should take a proactive role to strengthen community participation leading to the sustainability of health programs, b) financial service providers should establish linkages with India’s National Rural Health Management (NRHM) to improve access to health care, and c) championing a research agenda looking at the impact and large scale effectiveness to better understand the factors that affect the work of MFIs and SHGs on health knowledge and behavior with active support from Indian public health policy planners. 

Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth (AIM Youth) An initiative of Freedom from Hunger and The MasterCard Foundation

Ramirez, Rossana. 5pp. (2014). Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth, Freedom from Hunger: Davis, CA.


The transition of young people from adolescence to adulthood can be precarious as they try to navigate in a sea of new and growing responsibilities and begin to assert their independence. For youth living in poverty, such a transition is even more challenging, characterized by tensions between increasing financial pressures on the one hand and limited access to resources and opportunities on the other. These factors can recreate a vicious cycle of poverty as these youth grow up and start their own families. Freedom from Hunger reasoned that offering young people a combination of practical financial knowledge, skills and instruments to help them manage their limited resources could build their financial capability during this transitional period and set them on a solid path to a more secure future. To assess the impact and effectiveness of this theory, Freedom from Hunger partnered with The MasterCard Foundation to launch the Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth (AIM Youth) initiative. Through AIM Youth, Freedom from Hunger and local implementing partners provided access to financial services—primarily in the form of savings—and financial education to 40,000 young people 13 to 24 years old in Mali and Ecuador.

Show Me the Money: Costs and Revenues of Youth Savings and Financial Education Services Offered by Credit Unions in Mali and Ecuador

Loupeda, Christian. 53pp. (2014). Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth, Freedom from Hunger: Davis, CA.


With more young people alive today than ever before, most of them in poor countries, the need to include youth in financial outreach has never been greater. The international development community, with its global agenda of financial inclusion, now fully recognizes the need to provide young people with financial services and education. But providing financial services to the youth market is more challenging than targeting adult market segments. Moreover, the financial sector lacks experience targeting and serving this changing and multifaceted population.

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on some of the challenges and opportunities faced by financial service providers, credit unions in particular, in providing savings integrated with financial education to youth.

Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth (AIM Youth) in Ecuador and Mali: Final Project Research Brief

Gash, Megan, and Bobbi Gray. (2014). “Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth in Ecuador and Mali: Final Project Research Brief.” Davis, CA: Freedom from Hunger.


Responding to the opportunity to build the financial capability of a future generation of money managers and clients of financial service providers, Freedom from Hunger, a recognized expert in integrated[i] financial and non-financial services for the chronically hungry poor, launched the Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth (AIM Youth) initiative in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation in December 2009. As of December 2013,  39,439 youth in Mali and Ecuador—exceeding the goal of reaching 37,000 youth—had received financial education sessions and had access to savings mechanisms either in the form of formal savings accounts, non-formal group-based savings, or group-based savings linked to savings accounts.
This research brief will summarize the key findings from both the Mali and Ecuador research, focusing primarily on savings knowledge, attitudes, practices, and outcomes, such as amounts saved generally and for emergencies, and will share important insights into the ability of integrated financial services to build the financial capability of youth. The intended audience for this paper includes financial-service providers, technical assistance providers, and donors interested in learning more about how youth interact with integrated financial services.

Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth (AIM Youth) Financial Diaries Research Report

Gash, Megan, and Bobbi Gray. (2014). “Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth Financial Diaries Research Report.” Davis, CA: Freedom from Hunger.


This report highlights key findings from financial diaries research completed with program participants from four Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth partners; two in Mali (Conseils et Appui pour l’Éducation à la Base (CAEB) and Nyèsigiso) and two in Ecuador (Cooperatives San Jose and Cooprogreso). The financial diaries, high-frequency quantitative surveys administered at regular intervals over several months, were designed to answer the following questions:

  1. How did the amount of money youth receive fluctuate over time?
  2. How did youth report using their money over time?
  3. How did youth report saving their money over time and for what reasons?
  4. How did their financial knowledge, specifically regarding the educational objectives of the financial education, change over time?

The primary purpose of this report is to describe differences and similarities seen between Mali and Ecuador youth as well as among youth accessing different types of integrated financial services and financial education programs. The four key questions are answered throughout the description of outcomes from both countries.