Research is the most prominent among the InM activities. The major focus of its research is on microfinance, poverty, and development issues. InM conducts research studies independently and/or jointly with distinguished researchers and institutions from home and abroad. The underlying objective of the research agenda is to get insights into the problems of poverty and development and also to assess the impact of different interventions.
Ongoing Research 2016-17
Research on Operational Challenges of MFIs in Bangladesh (ROCM-B)
InM has recently launched a new programme, ‘Research on Operational Challenges of MFIs in Bangladesh (ROCM-B)’ to identify and analyse issues surrounding MFI operations in Bangladesh especially relating to microfinance disbursement and management, institutional and operational modalities, and data gathering and dissemination systems. The unique feature of this Programme is its participatory nature since the issues to be analysed are prioritised and the analysis is carried out in close participation and collaboration with interested MFIs. The Programme aims to assist MFIs to gain further excellence and professionalism through exploiting possible avenues for improving their operations and adopting cutting edge technologies.
Under the Programme, the following five researches and related activities have already been initiated in collaboration with partner MFIs.
Why high drop-out rates persist amongst MFI staff in Bangladesh? An empirical study
The study will analyse issues that contribute to high drop-out rates among MFI employees and identify resulting impacts on MFI operations and management. The analysis will be based on primary data and information collected from a sample of about 1,000 drop-out employees from both headquarters and field offices of selected MFIs. Elements such as organisational structure, legal status, management attitude, compensation packages and other aspects governing the decision making process of the drop out employees will be considered for the analysis. Relevant policy implications will be drawn for consideration of MFIs.
Empirical analysis on pricing issues of MFI loans: Are the MFI lending rates too high?
The interest rate charged by MFIsremains a contentious and debated issue despite the fact that the MRA has set a cap of 27 percent on the annual lending rate calculated using the declining balance method. The study will be conducted, in collaboration with participating MFIs, to bring out a clear picture on MFI lending rates including rationales and justifications. The research will identify major determinants of lending rates and spread for MFIs including the nature and source of funds as well as the cost structure relative to size and operation of MFIs to generatepractical recommendations.
Use of technology in MFI operations: Issues and challenges
MFIs in Bangladesh are at different stages of automation of MIS for various reasons including limitations of available software to capture all types of accounting practices, high costs for small MFIs and knowledge gaps regarding suitability of alternative software for specific MFIs. The research will focus on three major aspects: (i) identify the current MIS practice of MFIs, (ii) assess the problems of implementing fully-automated MIS, and (iii) recommend types of accounting software suitable for specific MFIs. This study will also identify supply side issues covering potential software developers and their incentives/disincentives in developing software specifically for MFIs.
Developing case banks: Innovation and good practices of MFIs
Under this programme,successful case studiesof MFIs that use innovative and replicable ideas will be documented, analysed and disseminated. InM will document the cases jointly with the MFIs covering In-depth exploration of unique, special, and interesting features of innovators and the underlying working processes, programmes, and relevant events. The results will be used to bring out the story behind the outcomes by capturing what are the facilitating factors, why it isuseful to highlight the success and replication potential and how the intervention shows ways of overcoming specific challenges and difficulties.