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.

Kalinga kay Inay: Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies. Program Evaluation.

Gray, Bobbi, Mharra Sarmiento, Cassie Chandler, Sabina Rogers. (2016). Freedom from Hunger, RESULTS Educational Fund, and CARD MRI. Davis, CA USA; Washington, DC USA; San Pablo City, Laguna Philippines


The Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) in the Philippines, with support from Johnson & Johnson and in partnership with Freedom from Hunger and the Microcredit Summit Campaign, designed the “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies” (HMHB, or Kalinga kay Inay, as it is known locally) initiative to improve awareness of maternal health services, knowledge of practices for healthy pregnancy and safe deliveries, and use of prenatal care and safe birth services. This report describes the HMHB initiative, as well as the outcomes achieved during its short, 15-month span. Given the cross-sectoral nature of the initiative, the results and implications of this report should interest both financial services providers and health sector professionals.

When Dreamers become Leaders: Understanding a spectrum of needs among women entrepreneurs in Guatemala

Gray, Bobbi and Caitlin Scott. (2016). Freedom from Hunger: Davis, CA and Friendship Bridge: Lakewood, CO


This research brief summarizes key findings from a recent qualitative study that was designed by Freedom from Hunger and its partner Friendship Bridge to understand the Friendship Bridge client and her business challenges and opportunities, using a methodology originally conceived by Freedom from Hunger in 2008 known as “impact stories.” The data collected from the impact stories were meant to support the client segmentation process that is currently underway in Friendship Bridge. The goal of the segmentation study and process is to facilitate Friendship Bridge’s ability to identify common client needs and to design products and services that meet those needs as they occur on a spectrum—from a "Dreamer" client with a new business and a few goals, to an "Entrepreneur" who has maturing business needs and a sharper vision, to a "Leader" who is in a position to transform her micro-business to a small or medium sized enterprise. What this research process unveiled is that a woman’s context seems to stand out as a very important factor—not to be overlooked—that will determine the opportunity she has to grow her business: either from choice or lack of choice. Context also seems to be influencing the second important finding from this study, which is about motivation and overall vision for the future. A client’s motivation and vision for the future of her business appears to be what really drives her potential for growth.

Systematizing the Integration of Health and Microfinance in Peru/Memoria sobre: Sistematización de Experiencias de Integración de Salud y Microfinanzas en el Perú

2015. Promoción de La Mujer and la Comunidad (PROMUC): Lima, Peru and Freedom from Hunger: Davis, CA



In collaboration with PROMUC, a Peruvian association of 17 microfinance institutions working mainly with village banking methodology, this report draws on the experiences and lessons from four microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Peru—ADRA, Alternativa, Finca and Manuela Ramos—that worked to scale integrated financial services and health services over a period of five years.


En colaboración con PROMUC, una asociación peruana que agrupa a 17 instituciones microfinancieras que trabajan principalmente con la metodología de bancos comunales, este informe recoge las experiencias y aprendizajes de las cuatro instituciones microfinancieras (IMFs) en Perú - ADRA, Alternativa, Finca y Manuela Ramos-- que se presentaron y trabajaron para escalar los servicios integrados financieros y los servicios de salud durante un período de cinco años.

Client Outcome Performance (COPE) Indicators Database

Freedom from Hunger and Microcredit Summit Campaign. (2016). Davis, CA and Washington, DC


This database file is aimed at helping microfinance institutions (MFIs) track and monitor their client outcome performance indicators. It is built to 1) compile clients' poverty levels using the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) developed by the Grameen Foundation and other user-defined data collected through a survey and 2) provide a general analysis as well as a detailed analysis of the possible correlations between indicators.

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: How Microfinance Institutions Can Track the Health of Clients.

Gray, Bobbi. (2015 & 2016). Freedom from Hunger: Davis, CA and the Microcredit Summit Campaign: Washington, D.C.


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. The Health Outcome Performance Indicators (HOPI) Project Report, published in 2015 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.
In 2016, Freedom from Hunger and the Microcredit Summit Campaign, as a follow-on to the HOPI Project Report, designed the Client Outcome Performance (COPE) Indicators Database to facilitate data collection and analysis of the health outcome performance indicators. The COPE Indicators database provides a pre-filled set of tested health indicators that MFIs can use to track both the poverty and health behaviors or outcomes of clients that are most relevant to financial service providers. For instructions on how to use this database, also see

Deconst­ructing Drop-Out: Uncovering the reasons behind attrition among village-banking microfinance clients

Bardsley, Alison Burgon, Bobbi Gray and Megan Gash. (2015.) Freedom from Hunger: Davis, CA.


Clarity on the underlying factors contributing to client drop-out can be a launching point for an expanded discussion on the objectives and measurement methods of client retention. Freedom from Hunger used its “impact story” methodology to present the stories and reasons for dropping out from 59 village-banking microfinance clients representing seven countries and microfinance institutions (MFIs). An understanding of the most common contributing and root factors to dropping out, namely health, business failure and group issues, can help institutions anticipate and respond to client needs before drop-out occurs. Misdiagnosing reasons for dropping out by focusing on the last link in the chain of events leading to drop-out could result in the wrong interventions being applied. Consequently, opportunities could be missed for making small efforts early, versus large efforts later, in order to improve client retention.

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.

Understanding Household Resilience of the Poor in Burkina Faso

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


Freedom from Hunger, with support from the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) Clients at the Center Financial Inclusion Research Fund, is exploring how households in rural Burkina Faso manage economic, environmental and health shocks and what roles formal, nonformal and informal financial products play in improving household resilience. With a focus on resilience, the research agenda includes formative research, economic games, and a series of surveys called “resilience diaries” that will examine the resilience of households over a seven-month period. This interim research report summarizes research findings to date. Early findings show that financial products and services can and should play a role in helping these women and their households build resilience, but therein lies a challenge to find even better solutions to meet the needs of their complex lives.

To read more on the topic and access the paper on the CGAP site...

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.