Does Sustainability Cause ‘Mission Drift’? Scaling up, Visibility, Mission Drift and Outreach Issues in Microfinances

  • Blomqvist, Hans Christer Valdemar (Project manager, academic)
  • Kar, Ashim Kumar (Project participant)

Project: Externally funded project

Project Details


The main objective of this project is to study to which extent there is a trade-off between outreach to the poor and financial sustainability of microfinance programmes. As an effective strategy to alleviate poverty, to provide additional support services such as literacy training, access to health services, and platforms to organize communities, microfinance programs have received increasing attention from all concerned. It provides financial services to the poor who have little or no access to capital and formal financial services. However, to meet the large demand, and to provide for their own long-term sustainability, microfinance programs are facing increasing pressure to expand their outreach, grow and enhance their impact by scaling up. This pressure often poses a dilemma to many microfinance programs in making difficult decisions between following their original poverty alleviation mission and pursuing the path to achieve financial sustainability. In this research outline proposes how this recent and timely question should be addressed through a case study of a large Bangladeshi microfinance institution (MFI) (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), for example) whose primary focus was to reduce poverty in Bangladesh. Major features of the proposed methodology are: (1) use of multi-dimensional pre-post quantitative data to show whether or not there is mission drift at BRAC, (2) use of mixed-methods to identify challenges that lead to drift while scaling-up and strategies that inhibit drift, based on whether there is mission drift or not, (3) use of purposive sampling to explore selected themes of primary findings in order to gain better understanding. The study will also try to provide a framework and a set of indicators and tools that may be used in by future research works and practices in order to measure the execution of social mission.
Effective start/end date01.01.200931.12.2010