Investors, funders, governments, and donors spend billions of dollars each year on a wide variety of financial inclusion programs that are designed to improve the lives of poor people in developing economies. It is important to measure the impact of these initiatives to understand whether programs are helping people, who they have helped, and why they worked. Evaluating impact can help improve program design to achieve greater impact or highlight a program that should be discontinued.

There are several approaches to evaluate a program’s impact. The simplest method—program evaluation—involves analyzing a set of indicators to assess the client’s well-being before and after the intervention. However, program evaluation cannot determine causation, so changes observed may or may not be the result of the intervention. Other methods, including randomized control trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental assessments, go beyond program evaluation to reveal a causal link between the intervention and changes in the well-being of people the program sought to help. RCTs and quasi-experimental impact assessments provide the most accurate data on impact, but they are complicated and expensive to conduct and are typically conducted by academics or those with specific training in impact assessment.

To date, most impact studies have had a number of limitations - including a narrow focus on specific products, short timelines and contradictory results - which make it difficult to reach conclusions about the overall impact of financial services on the lives of poor people. For this reason, the financial inclusion community has begun discussing the need for a new, more nuanced and evidence-based narrative that can help shape more effective financial inclusion policies going forward.

What can you find in this Topic Hub?

Curated by FinDev editors, this Topic Hub offers you access to key resources contributed by organizations around the world who work on the topic of impact assessment for financial inclusion. Our latest blogs and publications on this topic are featured here (in the Resources Tab above), and you can find a collection of papers, case studies and guides to explore further. When there are upcoming webinars, events and recent news on this topic, they will be featured in the Topic Hub as well, so make sure to come back regularly for the latest on this topic. Finally, we’ve selected some key additional resources, which are listed on the right here, where you can learn even more about this topic.

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Paper

Painting a more nuanced picture of the role of financial services in the lives of the poor
Paper

What do we know about the role financial services play in low-income families' resilience?
Paper

Findings show financial inclusion interventions have very small and inconsistent impacts

News & Events

The latest news and upcoming events and training from the global financial inclusion community on this topic.