REF 2021 Impact Case Study: Improved Effectiveness and Impact of an International Microfinance Programme


Description of impact

Since 2014, the University of Portsmouth (UoP) has collaborated with CARE International UK and their online microfinance platform (Lendwithcare - LWC) to research their communities of borrowers and lenders. The direct impact of that collaboration has been two-fold.

First, UoP research findings into who donates, in particular the projects donors/lenders favour donating to have been utilised by LWC in completing a major re-design of their online platform. This has seen the number of active LWC lenders grow from 20,794 (2014) to 66,002 (2021), with the investor portfolio growing from GBP5.5m to over GBP31.5m over the same period. As a consequence of this expansion, more than 120,000 new loans have been made to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries [Impact Strand 1].

Second, field research completed with LWC partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) saw these MFIs introduce a number of important operational changes as a result of the UoP research. These changes impacted upon social welfare through enhanced social inclusion (Ecuador - rebalancing the loan portfolio in favour of more marginalised groups), service change (Pakistan - streamlined loan selection processes for existing borrowers), and improved service provision to marginalised women (Zimbabwe - refined loan supervision processes and client training procedures) [Impact Strand 2].

An unexpected and indirect consequence of the success of the collaboration was the recognition of the ‘higher cost-effectiveness’ of the UoP-LWC project compared to other impact assessments commissioned by CARE International from external consultants. This not only convinced LWC to increase the time and budget allocated to their impact activities with UoP but will “most likely privilege [CARE International] collaborations with academic institutions in the future as a direct result” (S3).
Impact statusOpen
Impact date2015


  • REF2021