PROTOCOL: Effects of interventions to improve access to financial services for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in low- and middle-income countries: An evidence and gap map

Nina Ashley Dela Cruz*, Alyssa Cyrielle B. Villanueva, Lovely Ann Tolin, Sabrina Disse, Robert Lensink, Howard White

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

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Background: Micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) account for the vast majority of firms in most economies, particularly in developing nations, and are key contributors to job creation and global economic development. However, the most significant impediment to MSME development in low- and middle-income countries is a lack of access to both investment and working capital financing. Due to a lack of essential track record, appropriate collateral, and credit history, MSMEs are frequently denied business loans by traditional lending institutions. In addition, SMEs’ inability to access funding is hindered by institutional, structural, and non-financial factors. To address this, both the public and private sectors employ indirect and direct finance interventions to help MSMEs in developing and emerging economies enhance and increase their financing needs. Given the importance of MSMEs in the economy, a comprehensive overview of and systematic synthesizing of the evidence of the effects of financial access interventions for MSMEs, capturing a wide variety of outcome variables, is useful. Objectives: The objective of this evidence and gap map (EGM) is to describe the existing evidence on the effects of various interventions dedicated to supporting and improving MSMEs’ access to credit, as well as the corresponding firm performance and/or welfare outcomes. Methods: An EGM is a systematic evidence product that displays the existing evidence relevant to a specific research question. An EGM's end product is a research article or report, but it can also be shared via an interactive map drawn as a matrix of included studies and their corresponding interventions and outcomes. Interventions in low- and middle-income countries that target specific population subgroups are included on the map. The EGM considers five types of interventions: (i) strategy, legislation and regulatory; (ii) systems and institutions; (iii) facilitate access; (iv) lending instruments or financial products; and (v) demand-side interventions. The map, on the other hand, covers outcome domains for policy environment, financial inclusion, firm performance, and welfare. Impact evaluations or systematic reviews of relevant interventions for a previously defined target population are included in the EGM. Studies using experimental or non-experimental designs, as well as systematic reviews, are eligible. The EGM excludes before-and-after study designs with no suitable comparison group. Furthermore, the map excludes literature reviews, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and descriptive analyses. Search strings were used to conduct electronic searches in databases. To ensure that the research team had identified a significant portion of relevant research works, the search strategy was supplemented with gray literature searches and systematic review citation tracking. We have compiled studies that are either completed or in progress. For practical reasons, studies are limited to papers written in English and are not restricted by publication date. Selection Criteria: We included studies that examined interventions to enhance MSMEs’ access to finance in low- and middle-income countries targeting MSMEs including households, smallholder farmers and single person enterprise as well as financial institutions/agencies and their staff. The EGM considers five types of interventions that aim to: (i) deliver strategy, legislation, and regulatory aspects; (ii) systems and institutions that enable financing; (iii) facilitate access to finance; (iv) deliver different lending instruments or financial products, including traditional forms of microcredit; and (v) demand-side interventions such as programs on financial literacy. The map includes outcome domains surrounding policy environment, financial inclusion, firm performance, and welfare. Eligible studies must be experimental, non-experimental, or systematic reviews. In addition, the study designs must have a suitable comparison group before and after the implementation of interventions. Results: The EGM includes 413 studies. The majority of the studies (379 studies) analyzed microenterprises, such as households and smallholder farmers; 7 studies analyzed community groups; while 109 studies analyzed small and medium enterprises. There were 147 studies on interventions that targeted multiple firm sizes. Lending instruments/financial products are the most common intervention across all firm types. When it comes to the types of firms that receive the said financial intervention, the data is overwhelmingly in favor of microenterprises (278 studies), followed by systems and organizations (138 studies) that support better access to such financial products and services. Welfare outcomes have the most evidence out of all of the outcomes of interest, followed by firm performance and financial inclusion. Among all firm types, welfare outcomes are primarily targeted at microenterprises. With 59 studies, we can say that small businesses have a significantly large number of enterprise performance outcomes. of the 413 studies, 243 used non-experimental or quasi-experimental designs (mainly propensity score matching and instrumental variable approaches), 136 used experimental methods, and 34 were systematic reviews. 175 studies (43%) provided evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa, 142 studies (35%) from South Asia, 86 studies (21%) from East Asia and the Pacific, 66 studies (16%) from Latin America and the Caribbean, 28 studies (7%), Europe and Central Asia, and 21 studies (5%) from the Middle East and North Africa. Most of the included evidence covers low-income (26%) and lower-middle income countries (66%), and to a lesser extent upper-middle-income countries (26%). Conclusion: This map depicts the existing evidence and gaps on the effects of interventions to enhance MSMEs’ access to financial services in low and middle-income countries. Interventions directed at microenterprises with welfare outcomes have a significant number of research outcomes in the literature. SME evaluations have looked at firm performance, with less focus to employment and the welfare effects on owners and employees, including poverty reduction. Microcredit/loans have been the focus of a large number of research papers (238 studies), indicating the field's growing popularity. However, emerging financial interventions such as facilitating access to digital financial services are relatively under-studied. Several studies also investigate rural or population in remote areas with 192 studies, 126 studies on poor and disadvantaged, and 114 papers on women. Most of the research is conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa (175 studies) and South Asia (142 studies) so further research in other regions could be conducted to allow a more holistic understanding of the effects of financial inclusion interventions. Credit lines, supply chain finance, and trade financing, which are some of the ADB's financial tools have limited evidence. Future studies should look into strategy, law, and regulation interventions, as well as interventions targeted at SMEs, and examine policy and regulatory environment outcomes as well as welfare outcomes. Interventions on the demand side and their impact on the policy and regulatory environment, as well as facilitating access are relatively understudied.

Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's12
TijdschriftCampbell Systematic Reviews
Nummer van het tijdschrift3
StatusPublished - sep.-2023

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