April 3, 2014
On my recent trip to Bangladesh, I had the good luck to cross paths with and chat over dinner with Maria May and Amanda Misiti, two members of the Social Innovation Lab at BRAC who are engaged in advancing the organization’s mobile money agenda. Founded in 1972 in a rural village in Bangladesh, BRAC is one of the world’s largest and most influential nonprofits, serving by its estimates over 135 million people in need.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BRAC’s Social Innovation Lab is sponsoring a new BRAC Innovation Fund for Mobile Money. The fund will implement the...
April 2, 2014
Last month brought a flurry of opinions on postal banking in response to a new proposal that the US Post Office offer financial services – including bill-pay, check cashing, even small loans – to the “financially underserved.” Reactions have ranged from enthusiastic to deeply skeptical. This post highlights two key questions that have been posed and synthesizes some of the answers offered up so far.
March 31, 2014
I recently attended the launch event for Bill Easterly’s latest book, The Tyranny of Experts. His thesis is that international development policies have been determined by a group of so-called experts, who both ignore the rights of the poor and systemically violate those rights. After his presentation, Professor Easterly urged the audience to start more discussions that...
March 25, 2014
There were a few big announcements recently in the mobile money world –...
March 21, 2014
Over the past three years, I have been working on the Microinsurance Learning and Knowledge (MILK) Project, focusing on one specific question: Do clients obtain value from microinsurance? As the project comes to an end, I feel more and more that this is only one of the many questions that we should be asking as we think about how low-income people cope with risk and financial shocks. Insurance is one of many coping strategies; it is not...
March 20, 2014
Last month the Mobile Money for the Unbanked group at GSMA released their state of the industry report for 2013. They’ve been collecting data on mobile money since 2010 so a more complete picture of changes in the industry is starting to emerge, and this year for the first time they’ve added other mobile money products like insurance, credit and savings, which make up a growing piece of the mobile money pie. Though we...
March 17, 2014
Here on the FAI blog we’ve written many posts on the shortcomings of financial literacy training programs, both in the US and abroad. When I came across a study from the World Bank’s Development Research Group evaluating a vocational training and entrepreneurship program in Malawi, I was prepared...
March 14, 2014
While mobile phone penetration in Ghana is over 90%, up-take of mobile money services lags behind, particularly in rural areas. ...
March 13, 2014
Lately I've been noticing a lot of writing about innovation inanely citing Steve Jobs (“People don't know what they want until you show it to them”) and/or Henry Ford (“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”) quotations about customers not knowing what they want. An example last week, in an otherwise reasonable piece about how to measure economic progress, caused my frustration to boil over.