We collect data directly from our clients, using survey instruments that we have tailored specifically to FINCA’s mission. Each survey is administered to a representative sample of randomly-chosen borrowers, usually between 800 and 1,000 per country. We use a proprietary digital data collection platform, ValiData, which features real-time survey controls, ensuring that our data are of the highest possible quality.
Household Survey (FCAT)
We start with a detailed household survey — the FINCA Client Assessment Tool (FCAT) — which tells us about the daily living conditions of our clients. Through this survey, we learn about the make-up of the family, including its income-earners and dependents. The data includes basic indicators of the family’s well-being, especially their educational status, daily consumption, and the quality of their health. We also collect data on their housing and access to basic services, such as water, electricity and internet service.
Our survey instrument is modeled after the Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS), which is widely used among the World Bank and national statistical agencies. The LSMS is considered the most comprehensive tool for assessing the economic and social conditions of a given population. Like the LSMS, the FCAT is adapted to the consumption habits and general living conditions that are unique to each country.
The FCAT, however, is tailored specifically to the measurement of well-being among the poor. To achieve this, we cross-reference the LSMS data against the national poverty lines. This enables us to identify those attributes that have the strongest statistical relationship to poverty, especially food consumption. For example, in Africa we ask detailed questions about the family’s intake of staple goods, such as un-hulled wheat or millet, while in Pakistan we focus on different types of meat and local vegetables. This approach gives a very precise view of our clients’ daily consumption and living standards, while still allowing us to combine and compare the results from different countries.
In parallel to the FCAT, which focuses on the quality of life in our clients’ households, we conduct an Enterprise Survey, which measures their ability to generate income and the direct impact of FINCA’s loans. Our borrowers are all engaged in some form of productive activity which creates employment for themselves and others. The earnings from these activities are usually the main source of income for their families.
The Enterprise Survey tells us what kinds of businesses our clients are engaged in. In particular, we look at the categories that are most common among micro-entrepreneurs, including trade, services, small-scale production, livestock and agriculture. Knowing the sector of activity, we look closely at the income and expenses of the business, and how many people they employ. By describing these variables over time, our clients can estimate the impact that FINCA’s loans have had on their businesses. This impact varies enormously between countries and between the different sectors of activity in which our clients operate.
We also use the Enterprise Survey to gauge FINCA’s impact on women’s economic and social empowerment, particularly their ability to run a business and to hire workers. The survey also delves into the aspirations that motivate our clients, by asking them about the goals that led them to seek a loan, and whether they have been (or will be) able to achieve them with FINCA’s help.
If you are interested in further information about the FCAT or the Enterprise Survey, we encourage you to contact FINCA’s Client Impact and Market Research department.