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The Impact of Microfinance on Women’s Empowerment: Evidence from Rural Areas of Uganda

By Sonia Maria Hernandez

Microfinance is the practice of extending small collateral-free loans to underserved populations in developing areas with no access to credit. The Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) randomized access to microfinance treatment for women in rural areas of Uganda and tracked outcomes through surveys. This research determines the impact of microfinance by analyzing outcomes over five dimensions of women’s empowerment, including decision making power, community participation, business outcomes, emotional wellness, and beliefs about women. The strongest results showed that access to the VSLA program empowered women in terms of business outcomes and decision-making power. This leads to the conclusion that microfinance can more easily impact how a woman behaves within the household than change how a woman behaves within the community.

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Advisors: Professor Kent Kimbrough, Professor Lori Leachman | JEL Codes: O1, O12, O35

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