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Can Self-Help Groups Really Be "Self-Help"?

Author

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  • Brian P. Greaney
  • Joseph P. Kaboski
  • Eva Van Leemput

Abstract

We provide an experimental and theoretical evaluation of a cost-reducing innovation in the delivery of "self-help group" microfinance services, in which privatized agents earn payments through membership fees for providing services. Under the status quo, agents are paid by an outside donor and offer members free services. In our multi-country randomized control trial, we evaluate the change in this incentive scheme on agent behaviour and performance, and on overall village-level outcomes. We find that privatized agents start groups, attract members, mobilize savings, and intermediate loans at similar levels after a year but at much lower costs to the NGO. At the village level, we find higher levels of borrowing, business-related savings, and investment in business. Examining mechanisms, we find that self-help groups serve more business-oriented clientele when facilitated by agents who face strong financial incentives.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian P. Greaney & Joseph P. Kaboski & Eva Van Leemput, 2016. "Can Self-Help Groups Really Be "Self-Help"?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(4), pages 1614-1644.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:83:y:2016:i:4:p:1614-1644.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdw004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2008. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Malaria Prevention Experiment," NBER Working Papers 14406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Paolo Casini & Lore Vandewalle & Zaki Wahhaj, 2017. "Public Good Provision in Indian Rural Areas: The Returns to Collective Action by Microfinance Groups," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 31(1), pages 97-128.
    3. David de Meza & David C. Webb, 1987. "Too Much Investment: A Problem of Asymmetric Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 281-292.
    4. Orazio Attanasio & Britta Augsburg & Ralph De Haas & Emla Fitzsimons & Heike Harmgart, 2011. "Group lending or individual lending? Evidence from a randomised field experiment in Mongolia," IFS Working Papers W11/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    5. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2010. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 1-45.
    6. Joseph P. Kaboski & Robert M. Townsend, 2005. "Policies and Impact: An Analysis of Village-Level Microfinance Institutions," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-50, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ksoll, Christopher & Lilleør, Helene Bie & Lønborg, Jonas Helth & Rasmussen, Ole Dahl, 2016. "Impact of Village Savings and Loan Associations: Evidence from a cluster randomized trial," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 70-85.
    2. Diego A.Vera-Cossio, 2017. "Targeting Credit through Community Members," PIER Discussion Papers 78, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, revised Dec 2017.
    3. Emily Breza & Cynthia Kinnan, 2018. "Measuring the Equilibrium Impacts of Credit: Evidence from the Indian Microfinance Crisis," NBER Working Papers 24329, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Emily Breza & Cynthia Kinnan, 2018. "Measuring the Equilibrium Impacts of Credit: Evidence from the Indian Microfinance Crisis," Working Papers id:12587, eSocialSciences.
    5. Vandewalle, Lore, 2017. "The Role of Accountants in Indian Self-Help Groups: A Trade-off between Financial and Non-Financial Benefits," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 177-192.
    6. Shilpa Aggarwal & Eilin Francis & Jonathan Robinson, 2018. "Grain Today, Gain Tomorrow: Evidence from a Storage Experiment with Savings Clubs in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 24391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. repec:eee:deveco:v:128:y:2017:i:c:p:24-48 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Diego A. Vera-Cossio, 2017. "Targeting credit through community members," Development Research Working Paper Series 07/2017, Institute for Advanced Development Studies.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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