Microfinance is commonly regarded as a magic wand to improve the social and economic status of a community by empowering women, enhancing financial inclusion and literacy, and encouraging savings. Despite the apparent success and popularity of microfinance there has been mixed evidence on its effects on the social and economic wellbeing of the poor.
In this review, an attempt is being made to synthesise the existing literature relating to the impact of microfinance on the wellbeing of the poor in the South Asian context. This assumes relevance for two important reasons: (a) South Asia presents a heterogeneous set of countries which went into large-scale microfinance programmes early on; (b) it also provides an ideal setting as a group of countries ranging from very-low-income to lower-middle-income countries. Furthermore, systematic reviews attempting to synthesise conflicting evidence from different regions are conspicuously absent in the South Asian context.
Sections deal with the rationale and objectives of the review, the conceptual definitions of microfinance used and the outcomes on which the review focuses. In addition, we discuss the methods used for identifying the studies, the criteria for including the studies in the review and the method adopted for synthesis of the studies.
Gopalaswamy, A.K.; Babu, M.S.; Dash, U. Systematic review of quantitative evidence on the impact of microfinance on the poor in South Asia. EPPI-Centre, SSRU, Institute of Education, University College London., London, UK (2015) 34 pp.