This review revisited the evidence of microfinance evaluations focusing on the technical challenges of conducting rigorous microfinance impact evaluations. The authors concluded that almost all impact evaluations of microfinance suffer from weak methodologies and inadequate data, thus the reliability of impact estimates are adversely affected. This can lead to misconceptions about the actual effects of a microfinance programme, thereby diverting attention from the search for perhaps more pro-poor interventions. Therefore, it is of interest to the development community to engage with evaluation techniques and to understand their limitations, so that more reliable evidence of impact can be provided in order to lead to better outcomes for the poor.
There is a protocol for this systematic review
Duvendack, M.; Palmer-Jones, R.; Copestake, J. G.; Hooper, L.; Loke, Y.; Rao, N. Systematic Review. What is the evidence of the impact of microfinance on the well-being of poor people? EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK (2011) 184 pp. ISBN 978-1-907345-19-7