Repaying Loans with Mobile Money: Impacts on Female Microfinance Clients in Tanzania


Demand for microfinance loans is growing worldwide. Simultaneously,  the use of mobile money services is expanding, particularly in East Africa. Coupled together, using mobile money services to pay back microfinance loans can increase a woman’s economic empowerment and improve the profitability of her business by enabling her to control and save her money. However, women seldom experience these positive outcomes due to a lack of familiarity with mobile money services. Can helping women use mobile money services on a regular basis permanently shift how they use these services? This pilot study seeks to explore the relationship between female microloan recipients’  increased use of mobile money resources and outcomes related to better control over and use of the loan, which in turn may advance women’s economic empowerment. 


Using a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT), with microfinance clients of BRAC Tanzania Finance Limited, researchers in collaboration with IPA are interested in measuring the impact of using mobile money to pay off microfinance loans on women’s economic empowerment. This study consists of two treatment arms and a control group. The first treatment arm will attend weekly group meetings and will be encouraged to use mobile money to repay their loans. The second treatment arm will also be encouraged to repay their loans using mobile money, but they will attend group meetings every other week. A control group will continue to repay their loans using cash and attend weekly group meetings. Data will be collected through surveys and incentivized games to understand the impact mobile money services and cohort meetings have on women’s agency and empowerment.

Proposed Impact: 

The researchers hope to contribute to the knowledge base on the dynamics of microfinance groups and assess the level of social cohesion and peer support by meeting frequency. Findings from this pilot RCT will inform the scale-up of mobile money microfinancing offered by BRAC Tanzania.  In addition to funding from WEE-DiFine for the endline RCT activity, this project has received funding from Innovations for Poverty Action, BRAC Tanzania Finance Limited, and DigiFI Africa for discrete activities leading up to the endline.

¹Riley, E.(2020). Resisting social pressure in the household using mobile money: Experimental evidence on microenterprise investment in Uganda. Retrieved from


Associated Institute: Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)

Associated Investigators: Rachel Heath, University of Washington; Emma Riley, University of Washington

Country: Tanzania

Implementation Partner: BRAC Tanzania Finance Limited

WEE-DiFine thematic areas: velocity of transfers and breadth of support network; opportunity cost of time