This randomized control trial is designed to measure the impact of microcredit on poverty reduction among Bosnian households and the development of small enterprises that may otherwise not have access to finance.
Microfinance was introduced in Bosnia in the mid 1990s Nevertheless, the percentage of non-performing loans in Bosnian microlending portfolios has historically been very low and microfinance has become a sustainable though increasingly competitive business. This strong competition has encouraged institutions to look for a broader client base instead of competing for the same (limited) pool of clients. This has become particularly urgent over recent years when it became increasingly clear that many Bosnian households had been able to take out loans from various microfinance providers at the same time, exploiting the fact that a well-functioning credit bureau was until recently absent.
Against this background, this study entails an experimental intervention during which - for a limited period of time - loans are given to poorer, still underserved clients across Bosnia (with possibly somewhat higher credit risk). Loans are handed our randomly to the eligible population. The ultimate aim of the evaluation is to (a) measure the effect of extending loans to poorer groups in Bosnia and (b) to analyse the profitability of such a programme.
The fact that the evaluation will not only measure the impact on the borrower but also the commercial viability of deepening the MFIs outreach to this new group is a particularly important point because it addresses directly the issue of how the extension of lending should be financed if considered desirable.
We are currently analysing the follow-up data. The impact report is expected to be available in the spring of 2011.