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

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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 behavior 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.

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  • Brian Greaney & Joseph P. Kaboski & Eva Van Leemput, 2016. "Can Self-Help Groups Really Be 'Self-Help'?," International Finance Discussion Papers 1155, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1155
    DOI: 10.17016/IFDP.2015.1155r
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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. Emily Breza & Cynthia Kinnan, 2021. "Measuring the Equilibrium Impacts of Credit: Evidence from the Indian Microfinance Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 136(3), pages 1447-1497.
    3. Diego Vera-Cossio, 2022. "Targeting Credit through Community Members," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 778-821.
    4. Lori Beaman & Dean Karlan & Bram Thuysbaert, 2014. "Saving for a (not so) Rainy Day: A Ramdomized Evaluation of Savings Groups in Mali," Working Papers 1043, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    5. Heitzig, Chris & O’Keeffe-O’Donovan, Rossa, 2024. "Spillover Effects and Diffusion of Savings Groups," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 173(C).
    6. Francisco J. Buera & Joseph P. Kaboski & Yongseok Shin, 2015. "Entrepreneurship and Financial Frictions: A Macrodevelopment Perspective," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 409-436, August.
    7. 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.
    8. Paul Anand & Swati Saxena & Rolando Gonzales Martinez & Hai-Anh H. Dang, 2020. "Can Women’s Self-help Groups Contribute to Sustainable Development? Evidence of Capability Changes from Northern India," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(2), pages 137-160, April.
    9. Rachel Cassidy & Marcel Fafchamps, 2015. "Can community-based microfinance groups match savers with borrowers? Evidence from rural Malawi," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-13, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    10. Jiang, Liang & Phillips, Peter C.B. & Tao, Yubo & Zhang, Yichong, 2023. "Regression-adjusted estimation of quantile treatment effects under covariate-adaptive randomizations," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 234(2), pages 758-776.
    11. Mary Kay Gugerty & Pierre Biscaye & C. Leigh Anderson, 2019. "Delivering development? Evidence on self‐help groups as development intermediaries in South Asia and Africa," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 37(1), pages 129-151, January.
    12. Francisco J. Buera & Joseph P. Kaboski & Yongseok Shin, 2020. "Taking Stock of the Evidence on Microfinancial Interventions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 102(2), pages 173-202, May.
    13. Cassidy, Rachel & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2020. "Banker my neighbour: Matching and financial intermediation in savings groups," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C).
    14. Liang Jiang & Liyao Li & Ke Miao & Yichong Zhang, 2023. "Adjustment with Many Regressors Under Covariate-Adaptive Randomizations," Papers 2304.08184, arXiv.org, revised Feb 2024.
    15. Aggarwal, Shilpa & Francis, Eilin & Robinson, Jonathan, 2018. "Grain today, gain tomorrow: Evidence from a storage experiment with savings clubs in Kenya," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-15.
    16. Rolando Gonzales Martinez, 2021. "How good is good? Probabilistic benchmarks and nanofinance+," Papers 2103.01669, arXiv.org.
    17. Gonzales Martinez, Rolando & D’Espallier, Bert & Mersland, Roy, 2021. "Bifurcations in business profitability: An agent-based simulation of homophily in self-financing groups," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 495-514.
    18. Burlando, Alfredo & Canidio, Andrea, 2017. "Does group inclusion hurt financial inclusion? Evidence from ultra-poor members of Ugandan savings groups," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 24-48.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Microfinance; Self-Help Groups; Privatized Delivery;
    All these keywords.

    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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