Jessica Creighton is a Project Associate with the “Community Reconciliation” evaluation in Sierra Leone.
The drum beats in the distance grow louder and the warmth of the flames tickles my arms and face. Dancers around me shimmy at a moderate speed to the rhythm of their own drums awaiting the arrival of the parade of participants from the nearby village. As the two groups merge into one around the bonfire, the sound of the competing drums becomes deafening and the dancing reaches a frenzied pace.
I’m a new staff member at IPA, and on Wednesday, November 30th, I had the privilege to attend the annual conference of IPA’s Small and Medium Enterprise Initiative (SME Initiative). A group of leading thinkers on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) gathered to discuss the current state of research on how to support and encourage small and medium enterprises, particularly in the developing world.
Depending on whom you ask, with almost 200 million borrowers around the world, microfinance might be the best thing ever to happen to international development or an overhyped and dangerous intervention. Microfinance, the largest trend in international development in years, remains mostly unproven; it’s a realm of heartwarming stories and vague ideas about why and how it should work – and for whom. And after a spate of stories in 2009 and 2010 about the potential pitfalls, many people involved with international development are wary of unexpected consequences.
While the following story comes from a field of research other than economics, I found the human and epistemological drama completely engrossing and worth a listen. I'll try not to be too much of a spoiler and just lay out the basics:
On this past week's edition of the popular radio show/podcast "This American Life," the show's theme in two acts came under the banner of "So Crazy It Might Just Work." The first act was set up like this:
Pilot project will implement and evaluate two trust-building tools in trade credit for small shop-owners
Today the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) announced that it will fund an IPA project intending to facilitate small business growth in Kenya. The initiative will implement a trade credit product that incorporates mobile technology, and evaluate its effectiveness for micro-retailers.
We first suggested “nudges for development” as a replacement for Malawi’s renowned, but costly, farm input subsidy program (FISP) back in December. It looks like the idea could be even more relevant now that the program is shrinking.