December 2016 - Two teams of local PEP researchers held a joint national policy conference in La Paz, Bolivia, to present and discuss their findings relating to the impact of microfinance on social inclusion. More than 40 representatives of the Bolivian government, local authorities, microfinance institutions, national and international organizations, members of the academia and the public attended the event.
The first team presented the findings of their PEP study, selected for funding under the PAGE initiative in 2015, on the Barriers limiting access to financial services for micro and small entrepreneurs in Bolivia.
Their findings indicate that women are up to twice as likely to be accepted for a loan than men. While no ethnic discrimination was found in accessing credit, other types of loan discrimination may exist as the decision to grant loans is based on the subjective judgment of loan officers. Based on these findings, the research team highlights the need for continued evaluation and vigilance regarding the existence of credit discrimination. Find out more about their research, findings and recommendations in PEP Policy Brief 152.
The second study presented was selected under the PAGE initiative in 2014 and is an Evaluation of the Regional Effects of Microfinance in Bolivia.
The team’s analysis indicates that in municipalities with access to microfinance there is an 11% reduction in unsatisfied basic needs poverty as well as improved female empowerment through household decision-making. Based on these results, the team recommends that more is done to encourage microfinance and to expand financial access and loan provision at the municipal level. Find out more about their research, findings and recommendations in PEP Policy Brief 136.
The conference provided the opportunity for both teams of PEP researchers to familiarize many key stakeholders with their research, findings and recommendations. During the event, the teams were approached by government, public and academic stakeholders for further consultation and collaboration.
The Secretary of Development Planning of the sub-national Government of La Paz expressed his interest in undertaking joint research with the Bayesian Institute for Research & Development in 2017. Following the conference, several microfinance institutions expressed their intention to continue to measure the impact of microfinance on poverty, women’s empowerment and well-being.
The President of the Board of the Productive Development Bank stated his interest in consultancy with the team members regarding financial risk analysis for his institution. Additionally, the teams spoke directly with the CEOs of microfinance institutions in charge of implementing credit provision policies for development. The CEO of the Credit with Rural Education microfinance institution expressed his satisfaction with the results presented in both studies and stated his interest in coordinating the publication of both papers.
The President of the Microfinance Institution Association (ASOFIN) said that he would like ASOFIN to publish an article in their monthly microfinance review about the barriers limiting access to financial services. The representative of the Bolivian Private University similarly expressed the University’s interest in publishing the paper on loan discrimination in their academic revue of social sciences. The University also invited the researchers to present their findings at monthly academic conferences that will be held in 2017.