Microfinance for Decent Work Action Research - Asia

How can microfinance institutions (MFIs) help improve working conditions? How can they contribute to job creation? And how can MFIs help reduce child labour? Should MFIs have an interest in addressing these and other decent work issues? These are some of the questions that the ILO intends to address through an experimental global action research programme (2008-2011) in partnership with microfinance Institutions interested in promoting decent work.

Access to microcredit or other financial services can help improve the decent work status. Conditional loans, credit with education, incentives like interest rate rebates, linkages with social partners and NGOs as well as the provision of microinsurance, conditional cash transfers or health care can be effective ways to reduce child labour, decrease vulnerabilities, raise awareness and create incentives to improve working conditions.


The Microfinance for Decent Work Action Research Programme in Asia explores the linkages between microfinance and Decent Work with 8 Microfinance Institutions, testing adaptations to products, services and delivery techniques that result in tangible increases in decent work for their clients.

Questions addressed include:

  • What, in terms of Decent Work, is the most blatant and pressing issue for clients of each MFI?
  • Can it be addressed by microfinance institutions?
  • By which means?
  • What are the costs/benefits for the institution and its clients with regard to the innovation?

Timeline / phases

The Microfinance for Decent Work action research includes the following phases:

1) Selection, introduction and diagnosis phase (April 2008-February 2009)

  • Expression of interest, selection and introduction of interested MFIs to the project;
  • Clients’ survey and identification of area for decent work improvement; and
  • Decision on which decent work area the MFI will address through the innovation.

2) Implementation and testing phase (March 2009-November 2011)

  • Development of strategies and interventions to address decent work areas;
  • Baseline survey, implementation of innovation strategy at selected branches, follow up surveys to monitor the impact and effectiveness; and
  • Regular assessments and potential adaptations of the intervention.

3) Analysis, documentation and promotional phase (November 2008-December 2011)

  • Final impact analysis of each innovation;
  • Cost/benefit analysis at institutional level; and
  • Documentation and promotion of effective strategies.

Implemented within the framework of the ILO Decent Work Country Programmes, in Asia, the Microfinance for Decent Work Action Research is operational in Cambodia, Viet Nam, Mongolia, the Philippines, India and Pakistan.

For further information please contact:

Ms Valerie Breda
Microfinance Expert
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
United Nations Secretariat Building, 10th Floor
Rajdamnern Nok Avenue
Bangkok 10200, Thailand