What Do Practitioners Think Of Impact Research?

04 January 2013
3 comments

It is exciting to see the body of evidence on the impact of access to finance growing.  And I find it especially promising that studies are increasingly covering the full range of financial services including payments, savings, insurance and credit as well as financial capability.  When I attended the recent Impact and Policy Conference, organized by Innovations for Poverty Action and the Asian Development Bank, I met a far greater range of researchers seriously interested in financial inclusion that I knew were out there.  Many of these researchers were passionate about the role of research in helping improve policy and practice.  They welcomed dialogue with policy makers and practitioners to create a real feedback loop between their work and what happens on the ground.  This, I believe, is incredibly reassuring.  The trend is promising and work must continue to ensure that these worlds do get closer.

It is a custom from ancient India to produce threads for dress materials.Photo Credit: Seshadri Moitra

Over 30 studies were presented at the conference. For those who did not attend the Conference or cannot shift through the (rather long) studies and full reports, we decided to ask the practitioners to comment on the implications and relevance of the new research findings.  Perhaps it would have been more obvious to ask the researchers to summarize their own work – and we have done this in the past and will continue to do so. Yet, for this blog series, we will start the conversation from the perspective of people using research to inform policy, design funding strategies, or implement new approaches.  I hope their perspectives will be useful, and invite you to join in the conversations. 

And to the many researchers who have invested so much of themselves in this meaningful work, I extend a special invitation to comment on this blog series. The next post in this series, by Betty Wilkinson, will be published next week and focuses on how research can be made relevant for policy makers.

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Comments

Submitted by Dr.V.Rengarajan on
Dear Alexia Most of the research studies under Micro finance confines to micro credit and output level from institutional perspectives. There is a need to position the research focus from poverty base in the client side and probe how MF fills the gap and outcome and long term impact .Besides impact on poverty level, research need to focus on MF's impact on inequality reduction even in poverty pyramid. Further the findings and knowledge gained from the impact research need to be invested again the MF project right from the planning of the project for changing the process of impact sustainably. That is to emphasize that impact research should not be done for the sake of completion report for the investor or donor or funding agencies . These knowledge should be used for the benefit of host country and the client as well In this regard attention is drawn . to the key paper " What is Needed an Integrated approach to M&E at Pan Asia -Africa result based Monitoring and Evaluation forum Bangkok Nov 2012 with an illustration for MF intervention ,www.learnmande.org : http://www.seachangecop.org youtube Dr Rengarajan

Submitted by Sandhya Suresh on
I fully agree with Alexia that there is a great deal of research that is taking place in the MF industry and that there are evidences suggesting social transformation of clients over a period of time.The fact that the practitioners themselves do some internal studies will definately provide them valuable insights into looking up at the appropriate of products and services from the client's perspective.However practitioners require some training and support to undertake such studies.

Submitted by Alexia on
Thank you, Sandhya. I am heartened by the momentum across all kinds of stakeholders in financial inclusion to better understand the theory of change behind access to financial services. In many discussions, we have stressed the need to spend more time upfront in getting precise about what research questions we have even before jumping into research approaches and studies. Asking the right question and being clear about who wants to know is an important first step. Some questions will be more relevant for practitioners and as you suggest the capacity to get answers should be built into providers' own operations. Other questions be may of a more foundational nature, and will require public good investments in research.

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