Week of February 29, 2016

1. Informal Finance: Relying on friends and family for financial support can provide financial security, but it can also be a burden. Whether it helps or hurts differs by race, income, and marital status. Hispanic households feel most burdened.  The Pew Charitable Trusts

2. Savings: A new saving product designed for farmers in Mali and Senegal is built around scratch cards, similar to those used to buy pre-paid phone minutes. The new product uses scratch cards to combine the convenience of mobile money with the transparency of cash. CGAP

3. Remittances: "If we can use Bitcoin to replace SWIFT during the international part of the journey, and employ the local mobile money network as our domestic transport, then we’ve really got something. Until then, associating Bitcoin so directly with cheaper remittances is perhaps missing the point." Medium

4. Social Impact Investing: As "socially responsible" funds grow in popularity, investors demand competitive financial returns alongside social impact. Alex Edmans of the London Business School argues that both goals are possible. Berkeley’s DavidVogel counters that in most cases they are not. Wall Street Journal

5. SME Financing: Ideas for small business financing usually target two ends of the spectrum -- large banks and microfinance institutions, but both are unable to meet the needs of SMEs.  Credit unions and cooperatives are often overlooked but are well positioned to close the SME financing gap. FOMIN

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