At FAI, we:

Systematize evidence and communicate lessons. We clarify and organize what is known, and what needs to be known, about the impact of all types of financial services in poor households. 

Generate new evidence. Through rigorous research and analysis, including randomized controlled trials and financial diaries, we fill important knowledge gaps on the nature of demand for financial services.

Frame policy and regulatory issues. We describe policy options for central bankers and regulators focusing on experiences across countries, hurdles, and possibilities -- always making clear the direct effects and trade-offs of policy choices.

An example of our publications work.  See more publications.

An example of our publications work.  See more publications.

Why FAI is Important:

Making quality financial services available to poor households is not a new goal. Yet, the best estimates suggest that half the world is still unbanked. A wide variety of actors are attempting to tackle this problem in a variety of ways. Public and private institutions, as well as energetic and dedicated individuals, are working to dramatically expand financial access. Central banks are trying to sort through difficult policy options; donors and investors are active participants in this process, often influencing what types of services are available ; and commercial banks are experimenting with how they can broaden their customer base either directly or by working through other institutions.  The global financial crisis, as well as more localized problems in diverse contexts like Nicaragua, Bosnia and India, indicate that expanding access to finance can have negative as well as positive impact.

There are real trade-offs in expanding financial access. Regulations designed to protect consumers can limit access. Subsidies can solve market failures or distort markets further. Investments can expand or erode social impact. To make sound decisions when confronted by these trade-offs, we need better questions and better answers.

Which financial services matter most to poor households? How does regulation affect which customers are served? How can donors provide smart subsidies? What types of institutions and funding mechanisms are likely to deliver the financial services that have the biggest positive impact on poor households? How can the wise use of financial services be encouraged? How will emerging technologies such as mobile payments affect the cost, the use, and impact of financial services? How does access to financial services affect welfare beyond income and assets?

Today, with a robust start but much more innovation needed, the time is right to explore debates, expand conceptual frameworks, and collect better evidence—and put promising ideas into practice.

Jonathan Morduch

Executive Director and Co-Founder

Jonathan Morduch is Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. His research centers on microfinance, social investment, and the economics of poverty.

Morduch is co-author of Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day (Princeton 2009) and The Economics of Microfinance (MIT Press, 2nd edition 2010), and he is co-editor of Banking the World: Empricial Foundations of Financial Inclusion (MIT Press 2012). He has taught on the Economics faculty at Harvard University, and has held visiting positions at Stanford, Princeton, the University of Tokyo, and Hitotsubashi University. Morduch has worked with the United Nations and World Bank, and advises global NGOs.

Morduch holds a BA from Brown and Ph.D. from Harvard, both in Economics. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in December 2008 in recognition of his work on microfinance. 

Timothy Ogden

Managing Director

Timothy Ogden serves as Managing Director, coordinating FAI’s operations, research and communications. His previous work experience encompasses the private and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining the Financial Access Initiative he was the Chief Knowledge Officer at Geneva Global, Inc., an international philanthropy advisory company, and founding editor of Gartner Press. He founded and currently leads Sona Partners, a thought leadership communications firm, where he has helped develop more than 20 books for major publishers. Ogden is co-author of Toyota Under Fire, and author of the forthcoming Experimental Conversations, a collection of interviews with economists conducting field experiments on poverty alleviation interventions. Ogden also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Philanthropy Action, as a contributing editor for Alliance Magazine, and writes regularly for the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Jean Lee


Jean Lee is an Associate Research Scientist/Post-doctoral Research Fellow with the Financial Access Initiative at the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.  Prior to joining the Financial Access Initiative, she was a consultant at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., where she worked on issues primarily around growth and labor markets in developing countries.  Her prior research in development economics includes a field study of small businesses and entrepreneurial decision-making in rural Kenya and an impact evaluation in urban Zambia.  She received a PhD in Economics from Harvard University in 2010.

Alicia Brindisi

Research Associate

Alicia Brindisi is a Research Associate for Financial Access Initiative. Previously, she worked in the fields of public relations, international education, and international development for such organizations as Ruder Finn, International Baccalaureate, ThinkImpact, and UNDP.  She has lived and worked in Ghana, Uganda, Colombia, the UK, and in 2005 received a government fellowship to work and study in Germany. Alicia received her BS in Communications from Boston University and her MA in International Affairs, with a concentration in Social and Economic Development, from The New School.

JoAnne Williams_headshot.jpg

JoAnne Williams

Program Administrator

JoAnne Williams is the Program Administrator for FAI. Prior to joining FAI, JoAnne Williams was a member of NYU Wagner’s Fiscal Operations and Human Resources Team. She joined Wagner in January 2012 after working in Atlanta, GA as an Internal Audit Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLC. JoAnne received her BBA in Finance from the University of Georgia. She has also received a Certificate in Leadership from the Terry College of Business’ Institute of Leadership Advancement and a Certificate in Globalization and IT from Neusoft Institute of Information in Dalian, China.


Julie Siwicki

Research ASsociate

Julie Siwicki is a Research Associate at the Financial Access Initiative with a focus on domestic projects, especially the US Financial Diaries (USFD). Before joining the FAI team she was a Field Researcher for USFD, collecting detailed economic data from low- and middle-income households in the Midwest. She has also worked at  microfinance organizations both in the US and in Mali, helping to develop their infrastructures. She earned a bachelors degree in Development Studies and Economics from Brown University.


Angela Profeta

Angela Profeta is a Ph.D student in the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University with interests in health and economic development. She is co-founder of Manna Project International (MPI) a 501(c)(3) non-profit and student alliance. Profeta led the development of multiple MPI health programs in Nicaragua including a teaching hospital. Profeta has management experience in non-profit development and health programming as well as quantitative and qualitative research experience. She holds a BA in Psychology from Vanderbilt University and a MPH in Health Policy and Management from Columbia University.

The Financial Access Initiative is funded by a $5 million grant provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2000, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was created by Bill and Melinda Gates with the primary value that all lives have equal significance. To this end the Foundation provides grants to programs focusing on reducing poverty and improving health in developing countries as well as high school education in the United States. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works with an endowment of $33.4 billion and has provided $13.6 billion in grants since its inception.

Generous additional support is provided by American International Group, Inc. Support from AIG funds our continued research efforts as well as a new initiative in the area of microinsurance.


FAI Affiliates are individuals who share with FAI an interest in the field of development economics. Individually, their expertise contributes to FAI's thinking and research in health, microfinance, payments, behavioral economics, immigration and social investment, to name just a few areas.

Ignacio Mas

Ignacio Mas has been Senior Advisor in the Financial Services for the Poor program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and at the Technology Program at CGAP (a resource center for microfinance housed at the World Bank). Previously he was Director of Global Business Strategy at Vodafone Group, executive vice-president of marketing and account management at DoCoMo interTouch (a supplier of broadband solutions to the hospitality industry), and Senior Manager responsible for telecoms investments in Europe at Intel Capital (Intel Corp's venture capital arm). Ignacio holds undergraduate degrees in mathematics and economics from MIT and a PhD in economics from Harvard University, and has been a Visiting Professor of International Business at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago. He is currently an independent consultant on technology-enabled models for financial inclusion and an Associate with Bankable Frontier.

Stuart Rutherford

Stuart Rutherford is a researcher, writer, practitioner and teacher of microfinance. His research has focused on how poor people manage their money. This interest is reflected in his books The Poor and Their Money (2000, revised 2009), Portfolios of the Poor (2009), which he co-authored, and The Pledge (2009). As a practitioner Rutherford has tried to put into practice some of the ideas in his written work. In Bangladesh in 1996 he set up SafeSave, the world’s first microfinance organisation aimed at helping poor people with basic money management .
Rutherford is an Associate at the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester, UK. He was born in London and educated at Cambridge University and at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, but has lived most of his life abroad, including sixteen years in Bangladesh. He is currently based in Japan where his wife teaches in a development institute.

Michael Clemens

Michael Clemens is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development where he leads the Migration and Development initiative and serves as Research Manager. His current research focuses on the effects of international migration on people from and in developing countries, and on rigorous impact evaluation for aid projects. Clemens joined the Center after completing his PhD in Economics at Harvard University, where his fields were economic development and public finance, and he wrote his dissertation in economic history. He has served as an Affiliated Associate Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University and a visiting scholar at New York University. More...

Takashi Kurosaki

Takashi Kurosaki is a Professor of Economics at the Institute of Economic Research (IER) at Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, and research director of The Center for Economic Institutions (CEI). Kurosaki is interested in micro-econometric analysis of development issues in Asia, including poverty, inequality, and vulnerability. Recent research draws on field work in India, Pakistan, and Myanmar. Kurosaki received his Ph. D. from the Food Research Institute at Stanford University and has been a visiting fellow at Yale, Berkeley, and the Australian National University. His books include Risk and Household Behavior in Pakistan's Agriculture and Economic Analysis of Poverty and Vulnerability (in Japanese).

Dean Karlan

Dean Karlan is Professor of Economics at Yale University and President and Founder of Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), as well as co-founder of FAI. He began working in development as a practitioner, working for FINCA International from 1992 until 1995. He has consulted for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, FINCA International and the Guatemalan government. He was on the CGAP Savings Working Group initiative in 2005. Karlan received a Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T., an M.B.A. and an M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Virginia. 

David Roodman

David Roodman is the Senior Economic Advisor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Previously, he was a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development focusing on microfinance, debt relief, and aid effectiveness. His widely praised book Due Diligence confronts questions about the impacts of microfinance and how it should be supported. He wrote the book through a pathbreaking Microfinance Open Book Blog, where he shared questions, discoveries, and draft chapters. Roodman has been architect and manager of the Commitment to Development Index since the project's inception in 2002. The Index ranks the world's richest countries based on their dedication to policies that benefit the 5 billion people living in poorer nations; it is widely recognized as the most comprehensive measure of rich-country policies towards the developing world. More...


Daniel Rozas

Microfinance consultant Daniel Rozas takes a broad view of financial inclusion, exploring issues such as savings, housing finance, client protection and social responsibility, risk management, client behavior, and many others, relying on a background in finance and business strategy to guide his research.  In addition to his partnership with Financial Access Initiative, during the past two years of consulting in the microfinance sector, Daniel has conducted research projects for a number of organizations, including CGAP, Accion's Center for Financial Inclusion, the Smart Campaign, MicroRate, and others.  Prior to entering the microfinance sector, Daniel spent most of the past decade in the US mortgage finance industry.

Tony Sheldon

Tony Sheldon has been executive director of the Yale School of Management's Program on Social Enterprise since 2008 and a lecturer in economic development since 2007. He is also the founder and principal of Bering Consulting, which works with microfinance institutions in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, primarily in the areas of financial management and business planning. Sheldon has also worked with several development finance networks and funders, including the Ford Foundation, the World Bank, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), ShoreBank International, and Women's World Banking.

Jonathan Conning

Jonathan Conning is Associate Professor of Department of Economics at Hunter College and a member of the doctoral faculty at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His research has focused on the study of property rights, organizations and contracts in developing countries, emphasizing how asymmetric information, ownership inequality and costly contract enforcement problems interact to determine the nature of market and non-market resource allocation mechanisms in developing countries. His published work includes articles on financial intermediation, microfinance, social investment, land markets, the political economy of property rights reforms, and the design and evaluation of targeted poverty alleviation programs. Conning holds a PhD from Yale University and a BA from Swarthmore College, both in Economics.

Shamika Ravi

Shamika Ravi is Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Policy at The Indian School of Business, focusing on Development Finance and impact of public programs. She is currently researching India’s NREGS and publicly financed health insurance schemes. Some of her recent work includes an asset transfer program, product design of financial instruments  and analyzing topics in microinsurance with an emphasis on  health insurance. She is a Fellow at the Microfinance Management Institute in Washington D.C., advisor to UNICEF, India and independent director on boards of MFIs like Spandana, BASIX and SKS NGO. She has a PhD in Economics from New York University (2006) and a Masters in Economics from Delhi School of Economics (1998).

Rajeev Dehija

Rajeev Dehejia is an Associate Professor in the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, a Research Network Fellow at CESifo, a Research Fellow at IZA, Bonn, and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1997. Previous and visiting appointments include Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, and the London School of Economics. He is a coeditor of The Journal of Human Resources, and an Associate Editor at The Journal of Business and Economic Statistics and The Journal of the American Statistical Association.His research interests include: econometrics (program evaluation, propensity score and matching methods, and Bayesian applied econometrics), development economics (child labor, microcredit, and financial development and growth), labor economics (financial incentives and fertility decisions), and public economics (religion and consumption insurance). More...

Daryl Collins

Daryl Collins is co-author of Portfolios of the Poor and Director at Bankable Frontier Associates, a niche consulting practice in Boston.  She was the principal investigator of the South African Financial Diaries.  She will lead Financial Diaries studies in Mexico, Colombia, Kenya, India and the U.S. in the coming two years. Daryl began her career as an emerging market economist at a New York investment bank before moving to South Africa in the late 1990’s, where she joined the faculty of the University of Cape Town, to pursue research on the financial behavior of the poor. She has published extensively on financial market behavior in developing countries.  Daryl holds bachelors and masters degrees in economics from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. from New York University.

Sendhil Mullainathan

Sendhil Mullainathan is a Professor of Economics at Harvard University, founder and Scientific Director of the Economic Mobility team at ideas42, and co-founder of FAI and the Poverty Action Lab. Much of his work involves rethinking financial economics, in particular by using insights from psychology to explain a range of financial puzzles.In 2003 he was awarded a “genius” award by the MacArthur Foundation. He received his B.A. in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Economics from Cornell and his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard. (More)

Xavier Giné

Xavier Giné is a Senior Economist in the Finance and Private Sector Development Team of the Development Research Group at the World Bank. He is currently a BREAD affiliate and Associate Editor for the Journal of Development Economics. Since joining the World Bank as a Young Economist in 2002, his research has focused on access to financial services and rural financial markets. In recent papers he investigated the macroeconomic effects of a credit liberalization; the relationship between formal and informal sources of credit in rural credit markets; indigenous interlinked credit contracts in the fishing industry and the impact of microfinance services such as business training and financial literacy, microinsurance and microsavings. Prior to joining the Bank he was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the Economic Growth Center at Yale University. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain, an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago.

Karen Grepin

Karen A. Grépin is an Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner’s Graduate School of Public Service. Her research focuses on the economics and politics of health service delivery in developing countries, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, her work focuses on the impact and effectiveness of development assistance for health, priority setting in health systems, and factors affecting the demand for maternal health services. She is the author of a well read a global health blog, which focuses on issues related to global health and global health policy. She received a S.M. in Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health; Ph.D. in Health Policy and International Health Economics at Harvard University.

Jonathan Bauchet

Jonathan Bauchet is an Assistant Professor of Consumer Science at Purdue University and a Research Associate at FAI. His research interests are in development economics, and he is particularly interested in who adopts development innovations and why. Currently, he is working on field experiments about the demand for microinsurance in Mexico and Colombia, and about the impacts of an innovative anti-poverty intervention in India. His field experience also includes two years as a development worker in Haiti, collaborating on an agricultural microcredit project.

Barbara Kiviat

Barbara Kiviat is a research associate for the U.S. Financial Diaries, a multi-year study of the financial lives of 300 low- and moderate-income American households. Prior to joining the Financial Access Initiative, Barbara was a staff writer at Time magazine, where she covered business and economics. Barbara is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and New York University's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. At Wagner, she was a David Bohnett Public Service Fellow. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University.

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