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Microfinance as an Effective Partner for Alleviating Poverty

With the recent publication of six randomized microcredit evaluations from around the world in the January edition of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, diverse actors in the microfinance sector have been weighing in on whether or not microcredit is as impactful as we’ve all thought. While the results of these evaluations seem to show that microcredit alone does not have a transformative impact on poverty, they do illustrate that microcredit can boost financial inclusion for low-income households.

At One Acre Fund, we’ve seen first-hand how access to credit helps smallholder farming households increase their yields and multiply their incomes. Yet we also recognize that when serving rural clients, credit alone is insufficient. It is the combination of several key elements — delivery of loans in the forms of seed and fertilizer directly to farmer villages, along with the provision of agriculture trainings, post-harvest storage support and market facilitation, — that allows farmers to invest in their farms and their futures and grow themselves out of hunger and poverty, permanently.

The microfinance field continues to grow and expand. April has even been designated the official “Month of Microfinance.” Whether you’re a microfinance novice, or have a nuanced understanding of the sector, below is a list of articles and reports (breaking news and existing resources) we think add value to this important, ongoing conversation:

1. Early Insights from Financial Diaries of Smallholder Households

In this new focus note, entitled Early Insights from Financial Diaries of Smallholder Households, Jamie Anderson and Wajiha Ahmed share initial data and information gleaned from CGAP’s Financial Diaries of Smallholder Farmers project. Key takeaway? Smallholder households have financial needs that are unique, complex, and varied across geographies.

2. Sonja E. Kelly of Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion

Financial inclusion for the young and old! 4 Myths of Ageless Microfinance, by Sonja E. Kelly of Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, for Month of Microfinance Blog, and this blog by the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion on MasterCard’s project targeting financial inclusion of youth, discuss financial inclusion challenges and priorities for opposite ends of the age spectrum.

3. How Mobile Phones are Revolutionizing Personal Finance in Sub-Saharan Africa

Mobile technologies continue to feature prominently in financial inclusion conversation. In How mobile phones are revolutionizing personal finance in sub-Saharan Africa, Andrew Flowers, digital editor of FiveThirtyEight, discusses the mobile revolution and the democratization of finance across the globe.

4. Global Findex Database

In their newly released Global Findex Database 2014, the World Bank reports on the state of financial inclusion around the world. The good news? The number of "unbanked" individuals dropped 20 percent between 2011 and 2014 to 2 billion adults.

5. One Acre Fund's Resource Library

In February 2015, One Acre Fund published several original white papers on our online resource library. The papers in the farm finance section offer key learnings on our unique agriculture microfinance model, specifically on our approach to asset financing and flexible repayment.

Did you come across a fantastic microfinance article recently that you think is worth sharing? Let us know via the comments below, or by contacting One Acre Fund on social media.

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