Objective: To assess the impact of a microfinance program that provided business skills training and revolving loans to private sector midwives on perceived quality of services and client loyalty.
Study design: A quasi-experimental study with a pretest, posttest design was used to evaluate the impact of the intervention. Exit interviews were conducted at 15 clinics that received the intervention and 7 clinics that did not. Baseline exit interviews were conducted between November and December 2000. Five days of business skills training were provided to midwives, and loans (averaging $454) were given during January and February 2001. A follow-up clinic visit was made to assess whether midwives were implementing what was emphasized during the training. The loans were to be repaid with interest within 6 to 12 months, at an interest rate that is standard within the local commercial market. For those who repaid the first set of loans (11 clinics), a second set of loans (averaging $742) was provided after June 2001. Follow-up exit interviews were conducted at the same clinics between February and March 2002. We assessed the effect of the intervention at both clinic and client levels. T-tests, the analysis of variance, and multivariate logistic regression analysis were conducted.
Principal findings: These findings should be interpreted cautiously since secular trends were observed during the study period. The intervention was associated with improvement in clients' perceptions of the quality of care received at intervention clinics. The intervention was also associated with a higher level of client loyalty.
Conclusions: The enthusiastic response of midwives and the high loan repayment rate indicate that midwives were very receptive to the microfinance program. Overall, these findings suggest that microfinance may have an important role in strengthening private sector health services by increasing private providers' business skills and clients' satisfaction with services.