The nature and extent of the impact of microfinance, particularly on poverty, continues to promote debate. The articles presented in this Bulletin reflect the ideas and practice of the Imp-Act action-research programme. The work emphasises the necessity to judge the performance of microfinance organisations (MFOs) in both social as well as financial terms.
One important aspect of the debate is the potential contribution of microfinance to the Millennium Development Goals. But the potential impact of microfinance goes beyond these definitions of poverty. For example, impacts on gender inequality may relate to women above as well as below the poverty line.
This IDS Bulletin presents wide-ranging contributions from the three-year Imp-Act programme of action research, a partnership of 30 MFOs in 20 countries and three UK universities. Experiences are compared between rural India, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bangladesh, South Africa, and the Philippines. Covering methodological and organisational processes, as well as wider social impacts, this issue is a practical in-depth review of microfinance impact.