Improving the evidence on the impact of Microfinance: An experimental study of Microfinance interventions in three countries

Last registered on January 04, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Improving the evidence on the impact of Microfinance: An experimental study of Microfinance interventions in three countries
Initial registration date
January 10, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 11, 2021, 6:55 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
January 04, 2023, 1:12 PM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

RWI - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Connecticut

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Microfinance has a long and complicated history with policy makers and researchers. Many initial proponents argued that lack of access to formal finance was a critical part of why people remained poor in developing countries. However, initial reviews of impacts did not show transformative changes for people beyond a few anecdotal stories. The large promises of microfinance solving world poverty were not panning out. Decades after the beginning of the microfinance movement, there is still little conclusive evidence on the impact of microfinance on the lives of the poor. A recent exploration of experimental studies of microfinance by Dahal and Fiala (2020) shows that most studies suffer from serious power and design issues. These issues are so large that it is not possible to draw meaningful conclusions about the impact of microfinance, either for or against. This project plans to address these issues by conducting experimental tests of microfinance programming in three countries. The microfinance institutions in our study are mission-driven, client-centric institutions that practice strong poverty outreach and client-protection, while nevertheless striving for financial viability. The study will seek to improve on the design of previous experiments in several ways. However, the main goal will be to increase statistical power. The study will employ a third-party subscription model to identify potential microfinance clients before a baseline survey is conducted. This design is expected to substantially improve take-up differentials between treatment and control communities.

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Fiala, Nathan and Lise Masselus. 2023. "Improving the evidence on the impact of Microfinance: An experimental study of Microfinance interventions in three countries." AEA RCT Registry. January 04.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Income, consumption and asset ownership
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

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

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We conduct a randomized controlled trial where we test whether access to Microfinance improves livelihoods and employment outcomes. The randomization of the microfinance treatment allows us to causally identify the impact of being linked to a microfinance institute on our primary and secondary outcomes. All respondents were identified as high potential microfinance borrowers.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
The intervention is clustered at the village level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
176 clusters (Myanmar)
165 clusters (Paraguay)
250 clusters (Uganda)
Sample size: planned number of observations
2711 respondents (Myanmar) 2035 respondents (Paraguay) 3824 respondent (Uganda)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Half of the clusters are in the treatment group, the other half in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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