Microfinance programs often fail to reach the poorest households, whose income is insufficient to consistently service even small loans. Programs that target these “ultra-poor” households are often costly. This research study utilized a field experiment to assess the impact of BRAC’s “Targeting the Ultra-Poor” (TUP) pilot program in South Sudan and offers a direct comparison of TUP and unconditional cash transfer approaches to alleviating capital constraints. Results from this study showed evidence of positive consumption effects from both treatments, but only in the short-run. BRAC’s programmatic support may have also helped TUP beneficiaries cope with the short-term economic effects of a violent outbreak, demonstrating that while cash increases household consumption, the goal of improving income or wealth is aided by the additional services that the TUP framework offers.
As a follow-up, the team received additional funding in 2015 to explore the use of mobile devices for remote survey collection to better estimate household welfare.
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