More loans, better skills, safer spaces: Evidence from clustering savings groups in Afghanistan

Last registered on June 30, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
More loans, better skills, safer spaces: Evidence from clustering savings groups in Afghanistan
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004035
Initial registration date
May 23, 2019
Last updated
June 30, 2021, 5:04 PM EDT

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
Chapin Hall, University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2018-01-22
End date
2022-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In rural low-income contexts, savings groups offer an opportunity to alleviate credit constraints and gender disparities in access to credit. They can also promote women’s economic empowerment, which is defined as having both the ability to succeed and advance economically and the power to make and act on economic decisions. On their own, however, savings groups are often insufficient to fully support women's economic empowerment because (1) members—especially women living in poverty—generally lack enough cash for the group to invest in high productivity activities; (2) savings groups often lack access to quality training, information, and markets to support their productive activities; and (3) women in savings groups also lack sufficient voice in their communities to collectively address socio-cultural constraints to economic empowerment.

The Strengthening Afghan Women’s Economic Empowerment Project (SWEEP), a US$2.74 million project, addresses these constraints on several fronts. It is implemented by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), an international non-governmental organization (NGO) which has invested community-based savings groups (CBSGs) in Afghanistan since the early 2000s. The intervention combines a graduation approach with a safe space delivery system. It forms ClustersNote that the term “cluster” is used to mean two things in this document. In the context of the program, 4-12 CBSGs are linked into Clusters for the purpose of the clustering intervention. In the context of the evaluation, a cluster-RCT also happens to be the standard research term for a RCT that randomly assigns whole groups or areas (“clusters”) to different treatment groups. To avoid confusion, we will capitalize the first letter of the word “cluster” whenever we speak about the savings groups platforms. of CBSGs and uses these Clusters as a platform to (1) create and manage a revolving loan fund financed with external capital, (2) deliver skills training and business-related services, and (3) build networks among members and encourage market linkages. As community-owned and managed institutions, the Clusters can play an important advocacy role in support of women’s voice within their communities. Therby, the intervention, on the one hand, aims to ease credit, educational, and social constraints faced by poor women in rural Afghnistan; and, on the other hand, it strives to create safe environments to access these loans, skills, and information while building business-specific female-only networks. The proposed study is not designed to investiagte the effects of each individual intervention component separately (e.g., capital injections, micro credit, various types of training and technical assistance, grouping of market interests, etc.), which have each been studied at length. Instead our contribution to the literature is to comprehensively combine and intensify previous approaches to remove many important constraints to female ecomic success simultaneously.

We investigate the effects of the intervention on outcomes related to business performance, female economic empowerment, and well-being.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Chakravarty, Shubha et al. 2021. "More loans, better skills, safer spaces: Evidence from clustering savings groups in Afghanistan." AEA RCT Registry. June 30. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4035-2.0
Former Citation
Chakravarty, Shubha et al. 2021. "More loans, better skills, safer spaces: Evidence from clustering savings groups in Afghanistan." AEA RCT Registry. June 30. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4035/history/94964
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2018-10-15
Intervention End Date
2020-06-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
See PAP
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
See PAP

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
See PAP
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
See PAP

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The basic design of the impact evaluation is a 2-arm RCT. This RCT will be supported by other evaluation methods, to study the impact of the program, as well as the mechanisms through which that impact will be achieved.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in STATA by random number generation.
Randomization Unit
Clusters of saving groups.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
90 clusters of saving groups.
Sample size: planned number of observations
At baseline, the survey team approached 2386 households -- data was collected for 2164 households. For each household, the sampled saving group member as well as the most knowledgable person in the household was interviewed.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
A total of 45 clusters of saving groups were assigned to the treatment and control arms, respectively. At baseline, 1107 households were interviewed in the treatment and 1057 in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Health Media Lab IRB
IRB Approval Date
2018-07-20
IRB Approval Number
N/A
Analysis Plan

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