NORC carried out a survey for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and XacBank, a Mongolian micro-finance institution, to assess the effectiveness of models of micro-finance lending. The project focused on poor women living in the rural villages of Mongolia, called soums, offered micro-credits by XacBank. In addition to establishing and tracking baseline data on consumption patterns and living standards, this face-to-face paper survey of over 1,100 women tested the effects of both group and individual lending on enterprise formation, investment, intra-group transfers, and other behaviors that may be affected by access to credit. The survey participants were divided into test and control groups with the latter not receiving access to the micro-credits until completion of the survey. NORC and its local partner, Marbis Consulting, helped design and pilot test the survey instrument, trained and fielded survey teams, completed baseline and follow-up data collection, and cleaned and organized the data.
The project was a logistical challenge; survey research teams first took to the field in the middle of the Mongolian winter and travelled thousands of miles by 4-wheel drive over poor country roads, and in some cases no roads at all, often carrying their food and sleeping equipment in their cars.