The Story of a Practitioner-Researcher Partnership: Studying the Effects of the Grameen America Program


Can giving small loans to low-income people to start or grow their businesses help lift them out of poverty and improve overall well-being? That’s the idea behind microlending – a promising approach implemented by institutions worldwide. But only limited rigorous evidence is available on the model’s effectiveness, especially in advanced economies.

MDRC is evaluating Grameen America, a program that provides small loans to groups of low-income women in the U.S. using a model designed by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus for the original Grameen Bank program in Bangladesh in the 1970s.

But carrying out the first random assignment evaluation of Grameen America and its complex model presented unique challenges. In this episode, Katie Beal talks with Marcus Berkowitz, Vice President of Technology and Innovation at Grameen America, and Richard Hendra, MDRC’s Senior Fellow who leads the evaluation, about the partnership between the organizations and how they worked together to overcome those challenges.

About MDRC’s “Evidence First” Podcast Series

Policymakers talk about solutions, but which ones really work? Join Katie BealMDRC’s External Affairs Associate, as she talks with experts about the best evidence available on education and social programs that serve low-income people.