May 2012: "What works for clients?" research project launched
Imp-Act Consortium launches "What works for clients?" research initiative
This pioneering initiative is designed to understand the role of microfinance in responding to the diverse needs of different client markets.
This initiative is fundamentally about understanding (for given social outcomes) what provider-level solutions work best, for which clients, and in what contexts. Our research methodology features a number of innovations, including a focus on:
- Who we are serving: Microfinance is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Do we understand the profile of different target client groups? This project will use a segmented understanding of client groups to understand what works for whom.
- How financial services fit into clients' lives: As social businesses, we understand that access to financial services is only a means to an end. The real question is: “access for what goals?” This project focus on how financial services enable different kinds of clients to manage risk, smooth their consumption/income, invest in opportunities and build assets.
- What choices providers make to help clients achieve their own goals: Specifically, we will examine different solutions around (1) flexible product design; (2) delivery channels; (3) product bundling, sequencing and mixing; and (4) potential linkages with non-financial services.
- How inputs link to outputs: This process will investigate the entire process of change, rather than just the end result — starting with segmented understanding of client needs, and provider inputs, and then linking these to actual client outcomes.
The project will be broken down into three linked phases:
- Scoping and start-up phases: to map the current landscape of knowledge, gather pre-existing data on provider inputs and client outcomes in key markets, identify emerging trends and themes, and plan what additional information is needed to complete the analysis (18 months).
- Field survey phase: to carry out primary data collection with providers and clients in order to complete the analysis, write up and dissemination of lessons learnt (up to 18 months).
The findings from this project will enable practitioners (and their supporters) to be more deliberate about how they design and deliver programs to deliver real value to clients. To undertake this project, the Consortium will draw on our global presence, including relationships with hundreds of MFIs in every region, for data collection. Importantly, this research is firmly grounded upon on the on-going work of our members and other external organisations, which will ensure its practicality, immediacy, and applicability to practitioners across the industry.
If your organisation wants to get involved in this initiative, please contact the Imp-Act Secretariat.