I am so happy to see these questions of job creation hit the research agenda. As I have noted on my site, it's highly likely that the effect of SME financing and BDS on job creation is greatly affected by firm and market characteristics, e.g., agriculture v. tech, local cost of capital, etc. I am skeptical that an RCT would be able to show whether or not SME finance "works" for job creation unless it takes these traits into account, as the average treatment effect simply would not be very meaningful. I do think a smartly designed RCT could test a number of different contexts and client types to understand where (if anywhere) and what context it works. Like in medicine, the challenge is to know how the treatment effect varies by patient, so you understand how to best leverage scarce resources. Unfortunately, many are put off by the idea that research will show their treatment "doesn't work" rather than excited by the idea of better targeting their resources for maximum impact. This post really hit home with my discussion note (see the link for my "homepage") on "Cost-Effective Impact Assessments for the Impact Investor," which may be brazenly titled as what I propose certainly would not substitute for actual impact evaluations, but could be a useful complement by integrating a counterfactual into organizational performance monitoring. I think this is key for the birth of any "social impact" market, and speaks directly to your point on "counterfactuals don’t matter much to venture capitalists, but they should to development institutions and Governments. " While impact evaluations can validate the assumptions that underpin the theory of change of SME financiers, for example, I would like to see organizational performance monitoring plans validate that the organizations are indeed creating incremental value for their clients.