Displaying all posts from 2008
November 24, 2008
At a recent microfinance conference hosted by Innovations for Poverty Action, the Financial Access Initiative and Yale University, the Philanthropy Action editors sat down with Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, two of the founders of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL) at MIT and IPA Research Affiliates. Duflo, Banerjee and the other JPAL and IPA economists apply the rigor of randomized controlled trial techniques (the same approach used by the medical industry to determine if a drug or treatment does what it was designed to do) to poverty interventions to identify...
November 21, 2008
Fast, convenient and easy: the holy trinity of marketing adjectives. Any product or service that can legitimately claim to be all three should sell itself, or at least catch on fast. This blend of attractive features underlies the enthusiasm around mobile banking. Plus it just seems cool—who doesn’t like a story of technological leapfrogging?
November 21, 2008
At the end of October, I was at the Riverside Church, one of New York’s great centers of social action and charity, for a panel held as part of Columbia's annual Social Enterprise conference. The gothic setting was an odd match for the panel, but the timing was perfect for the topic: "Transitions in Capital Market Financing for Microfinance Institutions." If there was ever a time for thinking about financial transitions, this is it.
November 14, 2008
Researchers and financial analysts will spend years trying to understand exactly what happened on Wall Street over the past four weeks. No one was prepared for the rapid expansion of an economic crisis on such a massive scale. At the Financial Access Initiative offices in New York, however, we have been tracking a different expansion of the global financial system—one that is fueled by the possibility of financial empowerment instead of by risk and irresponsible lending.
October 15, 2008
A few months ago I did a quick review of the literature on financial literacy training to find out whether there was any indication that those programs have been successful. I was struck by the lack of evidence. Out of all the studies I could find only a couple stood out as being remotely credible. So I took notice when one of those studies, the best of the lot, was put under new scrutiny by Shawn Cole in a presentation last month at a World Bank conference on financial literacy.
October 14, 2008
Madina is a suburb of Accra, but in many ways it still feels like the city. In the market area there are the same long rows of sellers sitting behind tables piled high with fruits and vegetables, cans of tomato paste, biscuits. There are big wicker baskets full of red palm nuts. People are calling out the prices of their goods: "Thousand, thousand!"
I was walking down such a row of tables, carrying a black folder full of questionnaires. The task was auditing. It's one of my favorite parts of the job. The idea is to verify the data collected by the field workers and to make sure they...