Access to Finance

Access to finance programmes can help improve firm performance.

Definition

We included in our definition of access to finance programmes which:

Directly lend all or part of money to firms (for example public loans or subsidised loans);Guarantee or partly guarantee loans;Provide financial education or information to firms (for instance about financial services available);Facilitate alternative forms of lending (for example business angels, micro-finance, venture capital and group lending), by creating networks, incentivising or matchmaking lenders and firms.

In practice, the vast bulk of the shortlisted evaluations cover loan guarantees, or alternative investment tools (mainly venture capital). We also include one study which covers a relevant regulatory change (study 620).

We talk about programme effects on ‘businesses’ or ‘firms’ interchangeably. However, we distinguish between ‘financial outcomes’ (direct effects on credit constraints, levels of debt or probability of default), and affects on ‘firm performance’ which are likely to appear later (indirect effects on firms’ productivity, sales/profits or employment). From a local economic growth perspective we care more about the latter than the former, although ideally we need information on both types of impacts to judge whether a given intervention has been successful.

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