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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gray, Bobbi and Megan Gash. (2014). 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 research brief summarizes the results obtained from the formative research phase, completed between May and June 2014.
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.