The authors conclude that impact evaluations of microfinance tend to have low internal validity, not allowing for strong conclusions. While acknowledging that they treated the included studies very critically, they argue that there is no good evidence for the beneficent impact of microfinance on the well-being of poor people.
Two randomised controlled trials (RCTs) conducted in India and South Africa yield no convincing evidence on the positive impact of microfinance interventions on well-being. Microfinance interventions have an impact on business activities, but they affect well-being only indirectly. These RCTs find very few impacts on health, education and subjective well-being, or indirect indicators of well-being such as income or consumption expenditures. In conclusion, the evidence from the RCTs on the impact of microfinance interventions on the well-being of the poor is limited and inconclusive.