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Microfinance "Graduation" pilots are graduating

Nov 30/09 | From the blog
by Nathanael Goldberg

It’s no secret few MFIs have had much success mobilizing the “poorest of the poor” into their programs.  This failure has remained a persistent irritant in an otherwise phenomenally successful industry.

Microfinance advocates have generally taken one of two approaches to the problem:

1) Press on with the spectacular growth approach, increasing financial access (a good thing) but doing little to help the very poor; or

Another microfinance leader heads to Washington

Nov 25/09 | From the blog

President Obama announced today that he will nominate Elizabeth Littlefield for President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Is there collateral-free lending?

Nov 20/09 | From the blog
by Martin Rotemberg

Much of the promise of microfinance comes from the fact that people can get loans even if they do not have access to traditional physical collateral such as a house. The idea that people are trustworthy enough to repay loans even without the threat of losing their property makes for an uplifting story, but it is not always true.  Guarantors are understandably upset when someone does not repay what they owe, and often try to take something of value from the debtor – such as a gas tank – in order to pay off what they had to guarantee.

Rajiv Shah, the new pick for USAID – and the guy who got us rolling

Nov 17/09 | From the blog
by Jonathan Morduch

Last week, President Obama nominated Rajiv Shah to be the new USAID Administrator.  We’re a big fan of Shah, in part because without Raj Shah there wouldn’t be a Financial Access Initiative.

Text message reminders, not just for the treatment group anymore...

Nov 13/09 | From the blog
by Kerry Brennan

Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal and Slate Magazine have highlighted work by IPA researchers that has found the effectiveness of text message reminders in encourage people to save. (Check out the project here, here, and here!) 

Dropping Joy

Nov 09/09 | From the blog
by Ryan Knight

In the field experiment world, we have a strange name for money grants. We call them "capital drops" - a name that invokes food aid being dropped by air in a relief zone, only we deliver cash instead of food, travel in minibuses instead of helicopters, and distribute our cash prizes randomly to eligible people instead of to the most needy. I recently completed my first "capital drop" - we distributed $10,000 in $133 grants - and based on the looks on our participants' faces, "joy drops" might be a more fitting name.

MDGs 2.0...a role for evaluation?

Nov 09/09 | From the blog
by Kartik Akileswaran

One of my new favorite development blogs, Aid Thoughts, had an interesting post recently about what should succeed the Millenium Development Goals once they reach their deadline in 2015.  I was excited to see Matt, the blogger, focus on how to approach the exercise of goal-setting for development (rather than simply focusing on the content of the goals themselves), and I found myself nodding in agreement to his emphasis on a bottom-up approach that provides room for challenges to be addressed at the local

New global estimate reveals that half the world is unbanked

Nov 02/09 | From the blog
by Caitlin Weaver

FAI just published a new paper that reveals that 2.5 billion adults worldwide do not have a savings or credit account with either a traditional (regulated bank) or alternative financial institution (such as a microfinance institution). And nearly 90% of the financially unserved (2.2 billion) live in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. 

Economists are people too

Nov 02/09 | From the blog
by Kerry Brennan

Reading the complex theories and equations in many academic papers often leaves me wondering, "Wow, who wrote this stuff?"  It's easy to forget that academic economists don't eat math for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or run regressions on vacation just for fun.  This short Q&A  from The Root gives a peek into the real-person world of IPA Research Affiliate and recent "Genius Award" winner Esther Duflo.

Giving candy to strangers

Oct 29/09 | From the blog
by Martin Rotemberg

It’s remarkably hard to survey people if they have little children around - kids want complete attention. This past week I brought a few big bags of candy to hand out so that the kids would be happy while I was surveying. It was cheap & remarkably effective.

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