March 2012: Chris Dunford launches "The Evidence Project" blog
Chris Dunford's new blog explores what we really know about microfinance impacts and world hunger
Questions about the impact of microfinance, as well as the virtues of its various designs and accompanying services, have never been more important.
According to the Microcredit Summit Campaign, over the last 13 years the number of very poor families with a microloan has grown more than 18-fold from 7.6 million in 1997 to 137.5 million in 2012. Assuming an average family size of 5, that brings the number of people benefitting from microfinance to more than 687 million — more than the number of people living in the European Union and Russia combined.
Freedom from Hunger established itself as an early advocate of rigorous impact research when it used scientific methods to conduct impact studies of our Credit with Education services in Bolivia and Ghana in the 1990s. We continue to conduct impact studies today even as we embed monitoring systems into our program design for ongoing "social performance" management.
We aren't alone. Other organizations are contributing to an ever-growing body of research about microfinance. Have we learned all we can from this research? Are we even asking the right questions?
Chris Dunford is tackling these questions — and many more — in a new blog. On "The Evidence Project: What we're learning about microfinance and world hunger," Chris will host and moderate conversations that explore key themes about what the evidence really says about how microfinance relieves poverty and hunger.
Using Freedom from Hunger's own research as a starting point, but including the research of many other practitioners and academics exploring the field of microfinance, Chris aims to discover fresh insights about microfinance's impacts on world hunger and poverty. After a month or more of posts and comments on a broad question, like "Does microfinance offer the poor a better deal?", Chris will present a short summary that captures the comments of the blog's followers and highlights key insights.
Want in on the discussion? Head to www.microfinanceandworldhunger.org.