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Improving the evidence on the impact of Microfinance: An experimental study of Microfinance-Plus interventions in three countries
Last registered on April 23, 2021


Trial Information
General Information
Improving the evidence on the impact of Microfinance: An experimental study of Microfinance-Plus interventions in three countries
Initial registration date
January 10, 2021
Last updated
April 23, 2021 9:53 AM EDT
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
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-plus 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. 2021. "Improving the evidence on the impact of Microfinance: An experimental study of Microfinance-Plus interventions in three countries." AEA RCT Registry. April 23. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7004-2.0.
Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Employment, income, and food security
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
subjective resilience, subjective wellbeing, business resilience, farming resilience, safety nets and usage of savings during COVID-19, amount of household savings, spousal income, investments in the business or farm and poverty likelihood
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)
Sample size: planned number of observations
2711 respondents (Myanmar) 2035 respondents (Paraguay)
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)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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