November 20, 2014 - November 21, 2014
Lilongwe, Malawi
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Malawi and the Yale Savings and Payments Research Fund, under the Financial Inclusion Program at IPA, partnered with the Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM) to host a policy conference on Achieving Better Banking in Malawi on November 20 – 21, 2014, in Lilongwe, Malawi.
 
The conference brought together practitioners, policymakers, and researchers to discuss the current landscape of empirical evidence on financial inclusion in Africa and its implications for policy in Malawi. Speakers and panel discussants explored how innovations in the design and delivery of financial products can be used to positively impact the welfare of poor households and enterprises in Malawi.
 
The conference showcased results from randomized evaluations in Africa on suitable financial products for smallholder farmers, financial incentives and subsidies for low-income clients, smart technologies for better banking, behavioral nudges to save, and the role of social dynamics in financial decision-making. Each session focused on a set of individual studies and how their findings can contribute to effective programs that can be taken to scale. 
 
 
FULL CONFERENCE AGENDA (download)
 
 
OPENING KEYNOTE
Ronald Mangani, Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance
 
SESSION I:
FINANCIAL TOOLS FOR SMALLHOLDER FARMERS
 
Facilitating Savings for Agriculture: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi – Malawi
Jessica Goldberg, University of Maryland-College Park
 
Agricultural Decisions after Relaxing Credit and Risk Constraints – Ghana
Jessica Kiessel, Chief Programs Officer, Innovations for Poverty Action
 
Moderator: Kingsley Makiyoni, Business Development Manager, National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi (NASFAM)
Discussants:
Cornelius Mwalwanda, Former Deputy Minister Of Finance
Professor Ephraim Chirwa, Chancellor College, University of Malawi
 
SESSION II:
PRICE DISTORTIONS AND THEIR IMPACT
 
Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya – Kenya
Aaron Dibner-Dunlap, Program Manager, Innovations for Poverty Action
 
The Persistent Power of Behavioral Change: Long-Run Impacts of Temporary Savings Subsidies for the Poor – Kenya
Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Program Director, Innovations for Poverty Action
Moderator: Professor Ephraim Chirwa, Chancellor College, University of Malawi
 
Discussants:

 
Fletcher Chilumpha, Program Manager, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Stanley Mkwamba, Head of Retail and SME Banking, Nedbank
 
SESSION III:
REGULATIONS GOVERNING FINANCIAL SERVICES
 
Risk-Taking in the Banking Sector
Ben Kaluwa, Chancellor College, University of Malawi
 
Moderator: Thomas Munthali, Country Director, Innovations for Poverty Action-Malawi
 
Discussants:
Stanley Mkwamba, Head of Retail and SME Banking, Nedbank
Yananga Phiri, Principal Examiner-Policy & Regulation, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM)
 
SESSION IV:
FROM EVALUATION TO SCALE
 
Evaluating and Scaling Smart Technologies for Better Banking – Malawi

 

Jessica Goldberg, University of Maryland-College Park
 
The Obstacles to Scaling Promising Solutions
Emily Cupito, Policy Manager, J-PAL
 
Moderator: Duncan Phulusa, Executive Director, Malawi Microfinance Network (MAMN)



 
Discussants:
Wilson Moleni, Chief Operating Officer, Opportunity Bank
Phindu Lipenga, Principal Examiner, Information, Communication, & Technology, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM)
 
SESSION V:
BEHAVIORAL NUDGES TO SAVE
 
Effect of Income Timing and Structure on Consumption and Savings Behavior – Malawi
Lasse Brune, Yale University
 
Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving and Improving Loan Repayment through Positive Incentives – Uganda, Philippines, Bolivia, and Peru
Aaron Dibner-Dunlap, IProgram Manager, Innovations for Poverty Action

 
 
Moderator: Ian Bonongwe, CEO, Malawi Savings Bank (MSB)
 
Discussants:
Felizarda Mbewe, Alternate Channels Manager, Malawi Savings Bank
Howard Bowa, Head of Retail Banking, Inde Bank
Chikavu Nyirenda, Senior Lecturer, Catholic University of Malawi (CUMIMA)
 
SESSION VI:
MARKET-BASED SOLUTIONS TO SERVE THE POOR
 
Commercial Banks: Challenges and Successes in Reaching the Poor
Andrew Mashanda, CEO, Standard Bank
 
Moderator: Lyness Nkungula, Executive Director, Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM)
 
Discussants:

Dalitso Kubalasa, Executive Director, Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN)
Tyler Tappendorf, Research Associate, The Centre for Financial Regulation & Inclusion
 
SESSION VII:
SOCIAL DYNAMICS AND FINANCIAL DECISION MAKING
 
The Cost of Convenience? Transaction Costs, Bargaining Power, and Savings Account Use – Kenya
Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Program Director, Innovations for Poverty Action
 
Evaluating Village Savings and Loan Associations – Malawi, Uganda, and Ghana
Emily Cupito, Policy Manager, The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)
Moderator: Edward Chilima, Chief Business Development Officer, CDH Investment Bank
 
Discussants:
Chikavu Nyirenda, Senior Lecturer, Catholic University of Malawi (CUMIMA)
Fumbani Nyangulu, Chief of Operations, Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (MUSCCO)
 
CLOSING REMARKS:
IMPLICATIONS FOR FINANCIAL INCLUSION POLICY IN MALAWI
 
Thomas Munthali, Country Director, Innovations for Poverty Action-Malawi
Lyness Nkungula, Executive Director, Bankers Association of Malawi
Ralph Tseka, Director of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development
 
 
This conference was organized in collaboration with the Bankers Association of Malawi:
 
 

 


The Yale Savings and Payments Research Fund at Innovations for Poverty Action, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and managed by IPA in collaboration with Yale University, supports rigorous research on innovations that enable the poor to increase their savings and make better use of enhanced payment channels. With a focus on engaging new technologies and digital delivery channels, such as mobile and agent banking, projects supported by the fund study which innovations work best in helping the poor better utilize financial products and new payment channels.