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Human Faces of Microfinance Impact
Breakthrough white paper examines methods for using client stories to understand impact
Offering insightful results and a distinctive contribution to the narrative about the impact of microfinance, “Human Faces of Microfinance Impact” provides a noteworthy combination of rigorous method and storytelling. In so doing, this approach involves open-ended questions, careful listening, and free-flowing follow-up of the answers to capture a more complete picture of a client’s experience than can be achieved by standard interview techniques.
Since 2007, Freedom from Hunger has been developing and testing the impact stories methodology to discover client experiences that are representative of the whole clientele of a microfinance institution or even multiple institutions. A variety of methods is available to measure impact, including randomized controlled trials with highly structured interviews, but each is deficient for providing a holistic view of impact. To complement other techniques, the impact story approach enables a researcher to hear the bigger story of the individual or family and tries to find out what else is happening that might not have been anticipated.
The stories collected in “Human Faces of Microfinance Impact” paint a picture of the hope that participants bring to their microfinance experiences. The 274 individuals who participated in this study, representing both incoming and long-term clients in Freedom from Hunger’s programs around the world, entered their local microfinance program from a variety of backgrounds and family situations. This significant white paper highlights the importance of relying on multiple qualitative and quantitative methods to help researchers understand the full range of possible benefits of a value-added microfinance program.
Bobbi Gray, Freedom from Hunger’s Research and Evaluation Specialist and co-author, said, “We thought implementing organizations and our research evaluation peers, as well as donors, would find this paper interesting because it contributes to the ongoing public debate about the impact of microfinance and gives more of a client perspective about their lives in general and how microfinance fits into that picture—as well as what it tells us about successful microfinance clients.”
The free PDF of “Human Faces of Microfinance:
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Freedom from Hunger is a nonprofit international development organization that brings innovative and sustainable self-help solutions to the fight against chronic hunger and poverty. Our staff works with 132 local partner organizations in 19 countries to deliver microfinance, education and health protection services to more than 3.2 million women and families in Africa, Asia and Latin America. www.freedomfromhunger.org.