The Impact of European Microfinance
Investing in Financial and Social Inclusion?

The “Impact of European Microfinance” project is a 3 year research project funded by the European Investment Bank (EIB) under the EIB Research Sponsorship (EIBURS) programme and the International Labour Office (ILO) under its Social Finance programme.

The team

Principal Investigator: Georges Gloukoviezoff

The project is being carried out by:

  • Three research entities:
    • Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin (project leader);
    • Comptrasec , UMR 5114 CNR-University of Bordeaux;
    • University of Geneva.
  • Two key operational partners:
    • European Microfinance Network (EMN)
    • European Financial Inclusion Network (EFIN)

Context

Through the provision of better and more accessible financial services, microfinance has been found to improve livelihoods, reduce vulnerabilities and foster social as well as economic empowerment.

Given the benefits of microfinance, the European Union has supported its development through the Progress Microfinance Facility launched in 2010 and incorporated in the subsequent Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme announced in 2013.

Nevertheless, the impact of microfinance in Europe remains under studied even though the reality of the impact of microfinance in developing countries is a source of heated controversy.

Aims

The overall aim of the“Impact of European Microfinance” project is to contribute to the understanding and evaluation of the impact of microfinance on social and financial inclusion in Europe.

Objectives

The project has two key objectives:

  • Develop an “impact self-assessment tool” made available online to microfinance providers. The challenge is to build a tool which will be easy to implement but scientifically sound. Our idea is to match the primary data collected by microfinance providers with publicly available data from reliable European surveys. These surveys will be used as a cost effective counterfactual. This tool will be implemented by microfinance providers in 6 European countries.
  • Develop an “impact enhancement dashboard” which will link the data provided by the self-assessment tool with a limited number of indicators regarding the national/local context (i.e. poverty level, types of providers, labour market, welfare state, etc.) selected following case studies and European surveys analysis. Our hypothesis is that the level of impact will depend on the greater or lesser coherence between the type of microfinance (i.e. business model, type of financial services provided) and the national/local institutional context. The aim of this tool is to help policy makers and practitioners to select the most efficient microfinance features in order to produce the highest level of impact possible within a particular institutional context.

These two key objectives will be achieved by engaging with stakeholders at each key stages of the process. Achieving these two key objectives will both allow and require contributing to the debate about the impact of European microfinance in order to discuss our methodological choices and results as well as those from others stakeholders. We will engage with the European microfinance community through a wide range of publications (tweets, blog posts, journal articles, working papers, reports, etc.) and contribution/organisation of academic and non-academic conferences and seminars at national and European level.

Outcomes

Ultimately, the “Impact of European Microfinance” project’s outcomes should be:

  • To present an innovative analytical framework to assess the impact of microfinance;
  • To provide useful operational outcomes for practitioners and policy makers, in line with the recommendations included in the Social Investment Package of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Tools