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Putting microfinance to the test: 18-month impacts of the Grameen America Program (Quiroz et al., 2020)

  • Findings

    See findings section of this profile.

    Evidence Rating

    Not Rated

Review Guidelines

Absence of conflict of interest. 


Quiroz Becerra, M.V., Schaberg, K., Holman, D., & Hendra, R. (2020). Putting microfinance to the test: 18-month impacts of the Grameen America Program. New York: MDRC.


  • The study’s objective was to examine the implementation of the Grameen America program which supports low-income women to begin or expand their small businesses through a microlending model. 
  • The study authors conducted an implementation evaluation using data collected through interviews with program staff, focus groups with program participants, and analysis of program documentation. 
  • The study found that the majority of program participants engaged in program activities and received a loan following enrollment. 
  • The implementation study was somewhat comprehensive in its design, data collection, and analyses. While the authors provided sufficient explanations of methods used to collect qualitative data, the authors did not provide sufficient information on the qualitative analysis methods used following data collection. 
  • The embedded impact study was reviewed by CLEAR in June 2022. 

Intervention Examined

Grameen America Program

Features of the Intervention

  • Type of organization: Nonprofit organization 
  • Location/setting: New Jersey 
  • Population served and scale: Low-income women. 1,492 participants. 
  • Industry focus: Not included. 
  • Intervention activities: Microlending, mutual aid, class-based training. 
  • Organizational partnerships: Not applicable. 
  • Cost: Not included. 
  • Fidelity: Not included. 

The Grameen America model, adapted from a model used in Bangladesh during the 1970s, utilizes a group-lending approach to provide small loans to low-income women with the purpose of increasing small business ownership and net income. The nonprofit program requires that five eligible women form a group and receive group loan responsibility classes prior to approval of the Grameen America loan. Following approval of the loan, each woman receives a small loan and is required to meet weekly and have all group members in compliance with loan payments to continue eligibility. During the intervention from 2014 to 2017, 300 loan groups with 1,492 women were created. 

Features of the Study

The authors conducted an implementation evaluation of the single site in New Jersey to examine program operations, experiences of program staff, experiences of participants, and provide details on the methods used to assist the program in achieving its expected outcomes. Authors collected data through interviews with program staff and two focus groups with program participants; they also analyzed program documentation and conducted client follow-up surveys. While the authors provided information on data collection techniques, their methods of analysis and quality assurance processes were not described. 


Intervention activities/services 

  • The study found that the majority of participants used loans as intended, including the purchase of inventory to start or expand a business. 
  • The study found that the majority (88%) of Grameen America participants participated in initial program activities and received a loan from the program following enrollment. 
  • The study found that the Green America program increased small business ownership and monthly earnings from a small business. 
  • The study indicated that the program did not have sustained effects on net income of participants. 
  • The study found decreased material hardship in several areas such as housing and utility payments. 

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

While the authors provided information on the study sample and methods of data collection, the authors did not discuss analytical methods of qualitative data provided through interviews and focus groups.

Reviewed by CLEAR

July 2023

Topic Area