South Asia

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


    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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • The Economic Returns to Social Interaction: Experimental Evidence from Microfinance

    Feigenberg et al. (2011)

    Original Abstract:

    Microfinance clients were randomly assigned to repayment groups that met ei- ther weekly or monthly during their first loan cycle, and then graduated to identical meeting frequency for their second loan. Long-run survey data and a follow-up pub- lic goods experiment reveal that clients initially assigned to weekly groups interact more often and exhibit a higher willingness to pool risk with group members from their first loan cycle nearly two years after the experiment. They were also three times less likely to default on their second loan. Evidence from an additional treat- ment arm show that, holding meeting frequency fixed, the pattern is insensitive to repayment frequency during the first loan cycle. Taken together, these findings con- stitute the first experimental evidence on the economic returns to social interaction, and provide an alternative explanation for the success of the group lending model in reducing default risk.

    Intervention settings: Urban and peri-urban.

    Intervention description: Individual liability loans. Tested the impact of meeting frequency and social interaction on repayment rates of individual-liability loans.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: First time microfinance bank clients living in peri-urban slums in the city of Kolkata. Over 70% owned a business and median client's HH income just below a dollar a day. 100% women.

    Findings: In the absence of group liability and enforcement, more frequent group meetings led to greater social interaction and reduced default rates.

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  • Term Structure of Debt and Entrepreneurial Behavior: Experimental Evidence from Microfinance

    Field et al (2010)

    Original Abstract:

    Financiers across the world structure debt contracts to limit the risk of entrepreneurial lending. However, certain debt structures that reduce risk may inhibit enterprise growth, especially among the poor. We use a field experiment to estimate the short- and long-run impacts of varying the term structure of the classic microfinance loan product. While the classic microfinance loan contract requires clients to make small and frequent repayment installments beginning immediately after loan disbursement, clients in our treatment group instead received a two-month grace period before repay- ment began. The shift to a grace period contract increased clients' business investments in the short run and profits and income in the long run, but also their rate of default, indicating a shift towards investments with higher average but also more variable re- turns. In this manner, the absence of a grace period reduces risk but also the potential impact of microfinance on microenterprise growth and household poverty.

    Intervention settings: Unknown

    Intervention description: Group liability credit. Tested the benefit of using a grace period for loans instead of starting repayment immediately.

    Methodology: RCT

    Sample: Poor microentrepreneurs and wage workers (75% have home-based business).

    Findings: Positive impact of grace period on businesses of some women. Women with grace period invested 6% more of loans in businesses than those with no grace period. After two years, women with grace period increased average profits by 30%. 19% of women with a grace period group defaulted on loans, (compared to 2% default rate among women with standard repayment).

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  • Do Traditional Institutions Constrain Female Entrepreneurship? A Field Experiment on Business Training in India

    Field, Jayachandran and Pande (2010)

    Intervention settings: Urban

    Intervention description: Training in business skills and identifying financial goals: A streamlined two-day version of SEWA Bank's financial literacy and business skills curricula, and added material on financial goals and business aspirations.

    Methodology: RCT

    Sample: 597 poor, self-employed women. Homogenous in socio-economic status (education) but differing in religion and caste (Muslims, upper caste Hindus and scheduled caste hindus, each facing different mobility and social constraints).

    Findings: Among upper caste Hindu women (more socially constrained than lower caste), training increased borrowing (13 percentage points, nearly twice the rate of controls) and business income (about 30%), and likelihood of engaging in labor market activity (25%). Muslim women, who face most restrictions, failed to benefit from the training program.

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