From Social Strategy to Impact: How Can Impact Studies Be Improved?

How an impact study can be designed based on an MFI's social strategy?
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This discussion paper aims to show that designing an impact study based on an analysis of the microfinance institutions (MFIs) social strategy offers an opportunity to focus the studys lines of attack, adapt it to the MFIs questions and choose from among the tools available which will most precisely fulfill the information requirements of those commissioning the study.This paper also aims to show that the ‘Social Performance Initiative (SPI) – CERISE tool can help MFIs design an impact study that they can use for feedback and monitoring.The SPI-CERISE tool:

  • Contains a questionnaire to find out if the MFI has the available means and strategy to attain its social objectives,
  • Uses a client study to examine different client characteristics and determine the MFI's impact on beneficiaries and their families,
  • Uses impact analysis to assess how financial services have contributed to improved living conditions for clients.

The paper:

  • Presents the concepts of social performance and impact,
  • Overviews the principal tools available to practitioners on these topics,
  • Uses an example drawn from the “Sanduk” network of village banks in the Comoros to show how an impact study can be designed based on an MFIs social strategy.

The paper concludes that such an impact study focuses on the institutions individual characteristics and evaluates its approaches, strengths and efforts towards clients, going beyond the commonplaces of impact studies.

About this Publication

By Lapenu, C. & Reboul, C.