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

Diverse group of foodservice employees

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 Evidence First

Policymakers talk about solutions, but which ones really work? MDRC’s Evidence First podcast features experts—program administrators, policymakers, and researchers—talking about the best evidence available on education and social programs that serve people with low incomes.

About Leigh Parise

Leigh PariseEvidence First host Leigh Parise plays a lead role in MDRC’s education-focused program-development efforts and conducts mixed-methods education research. More