Results from Two Graduation Programs Creating a Buzz

There are encouraging signs from new randomized impact assessments of pilot projects in the CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program presented at the Microfinance Impact & Innovation conference recently held in New York. The initial results coming out the Bandhan study show that households who participated in the program have experienced a 25% average monthly increase in consumption—with important increases in nutritious food such as fruit, nuts, diary, eggs, and meat. The early results from SKS’s Ultra-Poor Program are less clear-cut, but show that participants are saving more and are less likely to borrow from money lenders than the control group.

The buzz around early results from these two studies is growing in the blogosphere: on the Financial Access Initiative blog Dean Karlan, President of Innovations for Poverty Action and Assistant Professor of economics at Yale, writes that that the results are proof “you can have an impact on the poorest of the poor.” Jonathan Morduch of New York University and Managing Director of the Financial Access Initiative (FAI) also referrers to the “staggeringly large” results from the Bandhan pilot, and suggests the next step will be to examine costs and sustainability (see FAI’s web site). In another recent post, Timothy Ogden, the editor in chief of Philanthropy Action, an online journal for high net worth donors, also put up a more detailed review of the results from Bandhan and SKS revealed at the New York Conference.

These recent posts suggest that the results coming out of the Graduation Pilots impact assessments could get a lot of attention in the microfinance community and the development sector more broadly. The full results of the two India studies are due soon… stay tuned!

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