South Asia

  • Providing Microfinance and Social Space to Empower Adolescent Girls: An Evaluation of BRAC's ELA Centres

    Shahnaz (2008)

    Original Abstract:

    Lately there has been a surge in the variety of approaches to assist the adolescents, specially the girls, in building up their lives and livelihoods. With financial assistance from Nike Foundation, BRAC started combining financial and social interventions in 2005 by setting up ELA (Employment and Livelihood for Adolescents) Centres for the ELA microfinance group members. This study is intended to assess the usefulness of this combined approach. It is based on a panel dataset of ELA Centre participants and non-participants, which tried to capture changes using qualitative tools. Despite a number of methodological drawbacks, we found indication of the programme being useful in reducing the chances of early marriage, engaging the participants in economic activities, increasing their mobility and involvement in extracurricular reading. Qualitative exploration indicated much stronger effects than our survey estimates, which may have happened because of the participants' over-attribution of their status on their participation, which is biased by self-selection. On the other hand, there are some indications that the surveys failed to capture some changes due to methodological limitations. Nonetheless, it appears that girls at disadvantaged position in terms of education and parents' openness to girl's empowerment are less likely to participate in the programme. It points the need for targeting such girls. Moreover, the skill development training should include a generic module on financial literacy focusing on budgeting, financial management, insurance schemes etc. There is still scope of improvement in general awareness on health issues. The materials that are provided to the centre should include more health specific knowledge based issues.

    Intervention settings: Mixed.

    Intervention description: Reproductive health education and vocational skills training.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Young women 14-20 years old.

    Findings: 35% increase in income generation.

    More Details
  • Do Labor Market Opportunities Affect Young Women's Work and Family Decisions? Experimental Evidence from India

    Jensen (2012)

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Recruiters from business process outsourcing industry held information and recruitment sessions in villages.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Young women.

    Findings: Young women from these villages were significantly less likely to ge married or have children. They were also more likely to enter the labor market or obtain more schooling or postschool training.

    More Details
  • Study of Self-employed Women's Association (SEWA) program in India

    Baldawi

    Intervention settings: Rural

    Intervention description: Program provided health care, child care, banking and insurance services.

    Methodology: Cross-sectional comparisons of participants and non-participants, and participants' reports on how program changed their lives.

    Sample: Mothers and children who attended centers in two districts 10 years ago.

    Findings: 42%-53% of mothers report increased productivity, employment days and family savings.

    More Details
  • Enhancing Adolescent Financial Capabilities through Financial Education in Bangladesh

    Amin et al (2010)

    Intervention settings: Mixed

    Intervention description: Financial literacy.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 620 women (ages: 14-19 years old).

    Findings: Increased knowledge on savings and budgeting, but no significant changes with regard to knowledge of loan options. Significantly higher numbers reported savings on their own (versus relying on family members), keeping records of expenditure and preparing a budget.

    More Details
  • Profile of Adolescent Girls: Findings from the Baseline Survey for Social and Financial Empowerment of Adolescents (SoFEA) Programme

    Bhattacharjee and Das (2011)

    Original Abstract:

    This study provides baseline profile of the adolescents from both SoFEA intervention areas and adjacent areas. Adolescent girls from the intervention areas are divided into two groups: girls from new SoFEA intervention areas and girls from areas with SoFEA intervention on the existing ADP clubs (hereafter denoted as ADP-layered). The adolescents surveyed from new SoFEA and ADP-layered SoFEA are not necessarily all participating members of the programme, because the baseline surveywas conducted on the potential adolescents before club formation. Ultimately, some of them may not have participated in the SoFEA programme. The baseline survey conducted in January and February 2010 collected information on the adolescent girls socio-demographic profile, their level of awareness regarding health, social and legal issues, financial literacy, their perception of marriage, gender roles, their overall status in personal and family settings, as well as their parents perceptions of the girls on these issues. Data on enrollment status of the adolescents show that approximately two-thirds ofthe adolescent girls (from a total of 6,176 girls) were currently enrolled in school. Among all the girls who had ever attended school, more than half have completed or were currently studying in classes 6-9. The main cause of girls withdrawing from school was marriage. Engaging in household chores was another common reason for leaving school. For others, difficulty in bearing educational expenses was the impetus for discontinuing school. Baseline data showed that the proportion of girls receiving any kind of vocational or livelihood training is low for girls from the different sample clusters. The most common types of training taken by girls were tailoring, cooking, poultry rearing, and handicrafts. With respect to income generation, the data reveal that an insignificant proportion (4-8%) of the adolescents were engaged in income generating activities, but this proportion seemed to be highest (8%) among girls from the ADP-layered SoFEA clubs. Households socioeconomic status appeared to be a significant determinant of the girls involvement in the income generating activity (IGA), with the indication that girls from financially better-off families were less likely to be involved with IGAs and vice versa. Level of education, enrollment status, receiving vocational training, and having cash savings were also found to be important in determining the girls IGA-involvement. The SoFEA programme's initiative towards providing livelihood training is, therefore, expected to have a direct contribution in the form of increased IGA-involvement of the targeted adolescent girls.

    Intervention settings: Mixed.

    Intervention description: Life-skills training, livelihood training, financial literacy, savings and credit facilities and community sensitization.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 6,000 women.

    Findings: No significant impact on financial literacy or earnings.

    More Details
  • The Effect of a Livelihoods Intervention in an Urban Slum in India: Do Vocational Counseling and Training Alter the Attitudes and Behavior of Adolescent Girls?

    Mensch et al (2004)

    Original Abstract:

    This paper examines whether an experimental intervention for girls aged 14-19 that provided reproductive health information, vocational counseling and training, and assistance with opening savings accounts in slum areas of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, India had an effect on their attitudes and behaviors. A quasi-experimental pre- and posttest design was used in which adolescent girls aged 14-19 residing in the interventionarea slums were compared with girls of the same age residing in control-area slums. Although the livelihoods program was acceptable to parents and feasible to implement, the project had only a minimal impact on the behavior and attitudes of adolescent girls in the experimental slums. The greatest changes between the baseline and the endline surveys were found in those outcomes that most closely reflected the content of the intervention. Girls exposed to the intervention were significantly more likely to have knowledge of safe spaces, be a member of a group, score higher on the social skills index, be informed about reproductive health, and spend time on leisure activities than were the matched control respondents. No effect was found on gender-role attitudes, mobility, self-esteem, work expectations, or on number of hours visiting friends, performing domestic chores, or engaging in labor-market work.

    Intervention settings: Urban.

    Intervention description: Reproductive health education, vocational counseling and training, and assistance with opening savings accounts.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Young women aged 14-19.

    Findings: No effect on number of hours engaging in labor-market work or performing domestic chores. Women were significantly more likely to have knowledge of safe spaces and be a member of a group.

    More Details
  • Managing Resources, Activities and Risk in Urban India: The Impact of SEWA Bank

    Chen and Snodgrass (2001)

    Original Abstract:

    This study measures the impact of microfinance services of Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) on low-income women of Ahmedabad, in India. The explicit hypothesis was that specific impact may be found at three different levels - household, enterprise and the individual level. The data used for cross section and longitudinal statistical tests was from surveys conducted in 1998 and 2000 for 798 respondents. The researchers also carried out complementary analyses. The clients of SEWA were poor and belonged to backward sections of society. They faced severe discrimination and worked as micro entrepreneurs, subcontractors or casual laborers.

    Intervention settings: Urban

    Intervention description: Group liability credit (various types of training), savings and microinsurance.

    Methodology: Quasi-experimental, statistical comparison of members and non-members, and panel data.

    Sample: 798 very poor women working in informal sector (41% microentrepreneurs; 36% subcontractors; 22% casual laborers; only 1% salaried.) Most make under $1/day and belong to Backward of Scheduled castes or tribes (and all suffer severe gender/social class discrimination).

    Findings: Informal sector earnings of clients' households increased. Postive impact on total business earnings of HH. Small impact on number of employees of HH microenterprises. No impact on women's businesses.

    More Details
  • Barriers to Household Risk Management: Evidence from India

    Cole et al (2012)

    Original Abstract:

    Financial engineering offers the potential to significantly reduce the consumption fluctuations faced by individuals, households, and firms. Yet much of this potential remains unfulfilled. This paper studies the adoption of an innovative rainfall insurance product designed to compensate low-income Indian farmers in the event of insufficient rainfall during the primary monsoon season. We first document relatively low adoption of this new risk management product: Only 5-10 percent of households purchase the insurance, even though they overwhelmingly cite rainfall variability as their most significant source of risk. We then conduct a series of randomized field experiments to test theories of why product adoption is so low. Insurance purchase is sensitive to price, with an estimated extensive price elasticity of demand ranging between -.66 and -0.88. Credit constraints, identified through the provision of random liquidity shocks, are a key barrier to participation, a result also consistent with household self-reports. Several experiments find that trust plays an important role in the decision to purchase insurance. We find mixed evidence that subtle psychological manipulations affect purchases and no evidence that modest attempts at financial education change households' decisions to participate. Based on our experimental results, we suggest preliminary lessons for improving the design of household risk management contracts.

    Intervention settings: Rural: Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

    Intervention description: Rainfall insurance offered to farmers at different discounted prices.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: AP: 2,547 land-owning households; Gujarat: 1,500 households from 100 villages, in which the participating NGO marketing the rainfall insurance operated and located within 30 kms of a rainfall station. Gender included in the model but results not reported.

    Findings: Take up strongly related to price, with estimated price elasticities ranging from -0.66 to -0.88. However, take-up was low (less than 50%) even when the price was heavily discounted. Demand appears to be constrained by liquidity.

    More Details
  • Returns to Capital: Results from a Randomized Experiment

    de Mel et al (2008)

    Original Abstract:

    We use randomized grants to generate shocks to capital stock for a set of Sri Lankan microenterprises. We find the average real return to capital in these enterprises is 4.6-5.3 percent per month (55-63 percent per year), substantially higher than market interest rates. We then examine the heterogeneity of treatment effects. Returns are found to vary with entrepreneurial ability and with household wealth, but not to vary with measures of risk aversion or uncertainty. Treatment impacts are also significantly larger for enterprises owned by males; indeed, we find no positive return in enterprises owned by females.

    Intervention settings: Urban.

    Intervention description: Capital grants in cash or in kind ($100 or $200).

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 385 microenterprises, 49% female-owned.

    Findings: No significant impact on earnings.

    More Details
  • Are Women more Credit Constrained? Experimental Evidence on Gender and Microenterprise Returns

    de Mel et al (2009)

    Original Abstract:

    We report on a field experiment providing random grants to microenterprise owners. The grants generated large profit increases for male owners, but not for female owners. We show that the gender gap does not simply mask differences in ability, risk aversion, entrepreneurial attitudes, or differences in reporting behavior, but there is some evidence that the gender gap is larger in female-dominated industries. The data are not consistent with a unitary household model, and indeed, imply an inefficiency of resource allocation within households. We show evidence that this inefficiency is reduced in more cooperative households.

    Intervention settings: Peri-urban.

    Intervention description: Grants of $100 and $200 in cash or in-kind.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 405 low-capital microentrepreneurs (50% women).

    Findings: Positive returns to capital for men's businesses; mixed impact on women's businesses. Women invest very little of smaller grants in business, but as much, if not more than men of the larger grant. Women do not experience permanent increases in business income from grants, while men do.

    More Details