Seventy percent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas in developing countries with poor access to finance. Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) have become an increasingly widespread intervention aimed at improving local financial intermediation. Using a cluster randomized trial, we investigate the impact of VSLAs in forty-six villages in Malawi. We find positive and significant intent-to-treat effects on the number of meals consumed per day, total household consumption, and number of rooms in the dwelling over a two-year period. This effect is linked to an increase in savings and credit obtained through the VSLAs, which has increased agricultural investments.
In 2016 the article was accepted for publication in the international journal Development Economics Vol. 120