It’s been great to see business school faculty take an interest in microfinance. Gabriel Natividad of the strategy group at the Stern School of Business at NYU just published an interesting new paper that links asymmetric information, third-party credit ratings, the price of credit and the operations of microfinance inst
Meet Jacques. He’s the Kiva Coordinator at WAGES, a microfinance institution (MFI) based in Togo, West Africa. Every day, a loan officer hand-delivers a stack of borrower information forms and a USB chip full of photos. Jacques has trained the officers how to fill out the forms, use digital cameras, and get borrowers to smile and display their merchandise proudly for pictures.
In round two of Lisbeth Schorr versus evidence-based policy (see round 1 here), she writes in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that,
If government agencies and private grant makers, afraid of being considered not rigorous, unscientific, or wasteful, choose to support only those efforts that meet the randomized-trial test, we will be robbed of:
* Good programs that do not lend themselves to random-assignment evaluations.
Because of the especially sensitive nature of doing research with human subjects, all of IPA's projects must be approved by an Internal Review Board. The board makes recommendations for how to ensure that the project environment is as respectful as possible to the rights of study participants. One of their requirements is providing survey participants with IPA contact information so that they can ask questions and voice concerns after they have completed the survey.
A recent Aid Watch blog post from guest blogger, Franck Wiebe (who also happens to be my former boss,) gives a very clear explanation why the “helicopter test” makes a lot of sense in weighing which assistance programs to fund.He writes,
The Obama administration – almost as geeked-out a bunch as us – is on board with rigorous evaluation of social policy. Peter Orzag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, recently wrote that,
Everywhere in the world, people both rich and poor struggle to save and invest for tomorrow rather than splurging on the things they want today. From text messaging reminders, to providing piggy banks, to giving away little motivational presents, IPA investigates ways to help people meet their financial goals and avoid temptation.
We just sent out our latest IPA newsletter (sign up to receive the next one here), which focuses on agriculture in the developing world. While working on some of the newsletter content, I was reminded of an online game that a friend of mine directed me to several years ago, called Third World
It is a difficult and not particularly fruitful debate when different sectors important to economic development are pitted against one another in the quest for donor attention. Lasting development progress usually encompasses many areas, and debates that fail to recognize this are often just distracting. Some of the more interesting (and no less heated) debates are waged once a specific sector of focus or growth constraint has been identified.
IPA's President, Dean Karlan, recently came to La Paz for a jam-packed day of meeting with all of our partners. Of course, at above 12,000 feet, La Paz isn't a good place to arrive just in time for an exhausting day with no lunch. Unsurprisingly, by 7pm we were suffering, so we struck out for the country director's house down in the suburbs, where there's more air.