IPA surveyors interview loan borrowers in Ghana

Microcredit has been successful in bringing formal financial services to the poor, but given that many microcredit clients live in poverty, this success has sparked a debate surrounding the question of how to set interest rates. In Ghana, researchers set out to measure how different interest rates on individual loans affect demand for the loans and if and how different interest rates affect borrower profile.

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Incentive (or performance-based) pay has been shown to increase worker productivity in high-income countries, yet it is uncommon in developing countries and little evidence exists on the impacts of individual- and group-level incentives in these contexts. Cultural norms, such as the desire to stand out or get ahead, may influence how people respond to incentives.

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An advertisement for waste management in Accra, Ghana.

Poor sanitation in the developing world leads to major diseases, increased public health expenditures, and causes childhood diarrhea, a leading cause of mortality in children under five.To explore how market interventions can be designed to address the unique sanitation challenges faced in developing countries, Innovations for Poverty Action is working with researchers to evaluate the impact of an information intervention on access to improved sanitation services in Accra, Ghana.

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Although enrolment and access to education has increased across sub-Saharan Africa, student learning remains low. Educators and policymakers want to strengthen teacher training in order to improve student learning, but evidence is lacking about what makes teacher training most effective, especially in early childhood education.

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SMS messages are used to improve grils' knowledge of reproductive health In Ghana

Improving adolescents’ access to information about safe sex practices is crucial for safeguarding the health of future generations. In Ghana, Innovations for Poverty Action and researchers evaluated the impact of a program that provided young women with information on reproductive health via text messages. The study found that the program improved young women’s knowledge about contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and other reproductive health topics.

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IPA works with researchers in Ghana to evaluate different variations of the Graduation program

The Graduation Approach, a model for holistic livelihoods programs, has been proven to have lasting impacts on poor families’ income, assets, food security, and mental health, but these programs can be expensive to implement.

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A microentrepreneur in Ghana interviews with an IPA surveyor

Of the two billion people living on less than $2 per day, roughly half run a business. Finding effective approaches to enhance the productivity and performance of these businesses is considered key to economic growth in many developing economies.

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Microenterprises make up a large portion of employment in the developing world but little is known about constraints on their growth. Researchers partnered with the consulting firm Ernst & Young to test whether providing tailors in Accra with individualized consulting, a sizable cash grant, or both can facilitate growth.

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Although attending and completing a high quality secondary school program can propel students towards greater success in the job market, many students do not enroll in secondary school. Further, some of those who do enroll either drop out or attend low quality secondary schools, even when they qualify for higher performing schools.

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Helping microenterprises grow can provide livelihoods and drive economic growth in developing countries, but research on using loans to spur small business growth has generally found these to be unable to help microenterprises expand.

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Many students arrive at primary school already behind, experiencing a lack of skills that may compromise their long-term learning and wellbeing. One way to address this issue is through high quality pre-primary education. In the Greater Accra Region, Ghana, where enrollment in pre-primary education is high, researchers evaluated the impact of an affordable, in-service kindergarten teacher training.

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Few subsistence farmers engage in paid labor, even when pursuing these opportunities would enable them to earn more and protect against risk. A variety of factors may influence this trend, including poor nutrition, the complexity of the work, and lack of access to financial services. Researchers designed an employment program in northern Ghana and evaluated participants’ willingness to engage in paid labor and carry out complex tasks on the job.

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More than one fifth of the world’s population lives on less than US$1.25 per day. While many credit and training programs have not been successful at raising income levels for these ultra-poor households, recent support for livelihoods programs has spurred interest in evaluating whether comprehensive “big push” interventions may allow for a sustainable transition to self-employment and a higher standard of living.

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Researchers are testing whether access to improved-yield agricultural inputs and agricultural extension advice—when provided individually or in combination—leads to more intensive land cultivation and increased earnings among farmers in northern Ghana who receive access to rainfall insurance.

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Organizations have launched youth financial education courses across the globe, yet little is known about their impact on young people’s financial behaviors. In southern Ghana, researchers evaluated two youth financial literacy programs to test their impact on savings, labor, school attendance, and financial decision-making. One program integrated financial and social education, whereas the second offered only financial education.

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