Doha Evidence Symposium

 

Last month, the Doha Evidence Symposium brought policymakers and practitioners together with academics and researchers to discuss "what works” in increasing the employment and productivity of youth in the Middle East and North Africa regions. Lucia Sanchez, SME Initiative Director at IPA, is shown above leading a discussion on self-employment and entrepreneurship programs. More information about the symposium can be found here.

New Study Finds Cash Alone Effective Way to Fight Poverty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
New Haven, CT - Researchers today released the results of a long-awaited study (details here), which may reveal a promising new direction in alleviating poverty, one much simpler than many popular aid methods. While traditional charities and aid programs often have infrastructures designed to deliver specific types of aid to the poor, such as food or livestock, the researchers studied a new group, GiveDirectly, which simply gives money directly to poor people in Kenya. The study found that poor recipients spent the money on a broad variety of items, including food, shelter, and productive assets, leading to significant improvements in income, food security, and psychological well-being.
 
The study, conducted with the nonprofit Innovations for Poverty Action and funded by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund, focused on households in rural Western Kenya, where per capita income is the equivalent of $1 a day and 64 percent of people reported not having enough food in their house for the next day. Researchers tracked GiveDirectly recipients who were randomly selected to receive the equivalent of $720 US dollars on average. The money was transferred through a mobile phone-based banking system called M-PESA, and recipients were free to spend it any way they wished.
 
Households who received transfers experienced on average a 33 percent increase in incomes coming from sources such as livestock and non-agricultural businesses and increased the value of their household assets by 53 percent, largely in the forms of livestock and improvements to their homes. The money also reduced the number of days children went without food by 42 percent.
 
According to economist Jeremy Shapiro, one of the study’s authors, “These findings are significant because they question the assumptions many aid programs are based on - that the poor might spend cash on things like alcohol or tobacco, or that they don’t have opportunities to help themselves. We find that if you just give the poor cash, they use it to build assets, buy food and make investments in their livelihoods.”
 
Johannes Haushofer, the study’s other author, a Harvard Prize Fellow in Economics and Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, pointed out that the study looked at not only financial outcomes, but also psychological well-being and biological markers of stress. Haushofer, who holds Ph.D.s in both neuroscience and economics, said that larger transfers led to greater improvements in mental health: “The transfers improved psychological well-being, and saliva samples showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol for recipients of larger transfers, especially when transfers were sent to women rather than men,” one of several insights which may guide policy-makers interested in improving the welfare of the poor.
 
Annie Duflo, Executive Director of Innovations for Poverty Action, said she is looking forward to bringing the results to the aid community and government officials. “The finding that you can have these effects without expensive programs to administer it is a powerful lesson that merits deeper exploration - the most complicated aid may not be the most cost-effective.”
 
A summary of the project and findings can be found here, and a full policy brief with results here.
 
 
About Innovations for Poverty Action
 
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to discovering and promoting effective solutions to global poverty problems. Established in 2002, IPA partners with researchers at top universities and implementing organizations around the world to ensure that poverty-fighting activities are supported by rigorous evaluation, and works closely with local decisionmakers in key countries to ensure that the high-quality evidence is applied at scale. IPA has completed more than 100 studies, and has more than 200 in progress around the world, covering education, health, agriculture, financial services, governance, water and sanitation, and post-conflict recovery. Within a decade, IPA has grown to over 900 staff working on building and promoting evidence in 51 countries. For more information, visit www.poverty-action.org.
 
Contact:
Jeffrey Mosenkis, Global Outreach Coordinator
Innovations for Poverty Action
203-772-2216 x240
 
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SME Initiative Launches New RFP

The Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) Initiative is pleased to announce that it is now accepting a SIXTH ROUND of applications for its Competitive Research Fund on Entrepreneurship and SME Growth. The goal of this fund is to support innovative research that is in line with the initiative's objective to build a systemic body of evidence on the contributions of SME growth to poverty alleviation and economic development. We hope that this competition will have a catalyzing effect to stimulate high quality research that can produce relevant evidence to innovate, implement and scale programs that promote SME growth. For this round of grants, complete proposals should be emailed to sme-fund@poverty-action.org by 5:00 pm EST on November 15, 2013.

Please see the full RFP description, the application form, and budgeting guidelines.

IPA at Alliance for Financial Inclusion's Global Policy Forum

Aishwarya Ratan, Director of IPA's Global Financial Inclusion Initiative joined luminaries such as Bill Gates, Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor at Bank Negara Malaysia, Princess Maxima of the Netherlands and others at the AFI Global Policy Forum 2013 in Kuala Lumpur. A video of her panel covering the impact of financial inclusion on poverty alleviation can be viewed below or here.
 
 

Innovations for Poverty Action Announces Launch of Evidence Action to Bring Evidence-Based Solutions to Scale

For Immediate Release
 
NEW HAVEN, CT - Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is pleased to announce the launch of a new organization created with IPA's support and dedicated to taking cost-effective programs to scale to improve the lives of millions in Africa and Asia. Evidence Action has been created to bridge the gap between evidence about what works to alleviate poverty around the world and what is actually implemented. The organization scales interventions based on rigorous evidence and crafts resilient business models for long run success.
 
Two IPA initiatives that touch millions of people in Africa and Asia - Dispensers for Safe Water and the Deworm the World Initiative - will spin off from IPA to be managed by Evidence Action. Dispensers for Safe Water is an entrepreneurial program scaling the chlorine dispenser system. This innovation is based on research that showed that installing chlorine dispensers next to community water sources made treating water easy, which increased usage of chlorine six-fold, providing a very low-cost strategy to get millions of people drinking safe water.  This year the program will reach over one million people in Africa. The Deworm the World Initiative actively supports the scale-up of school-based deworming programs worldwide to free children of intestinal worms. Not only has this been shown to be one of the most cost-effective ways to improve attendance in school, children in school-based deworming programs also have higher incomes a decade later. The Deworm the World Initiative has reached more than 40 million children by partnering with governments to support their work, ensuring integration with other health and education initiatives and long-run financial sustainability for school-based deworming programs.
 
While IPA will continue to operate and provide support for both of these programs throughout the transition period, the management and strategic planning of this work are transitioning to Evidence Action. Both organizations will continue to work closely together after the transition is complete.
 
"The launch and success of Evidence Action is central to IPA's overall strategic vision," said Annie Duflo, Executive Director of IPA. "IPA's vision is that evidence of what works translates to large-scale impact in practice. The creation of Evidence Action provides an exciting new path to take demonstrated ideas to the next stage of expansion, while allowing IPA to focus on designing and evaluating innovative solutions, and on mobilizing and supporting other organizations to use and apply this knowledge."
 
"We are excited about the impact our collaboration will have on poverty alleviation around the world."  Alix Zwane, Evidence Action's new Executive Director who joined from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, adds: "The vision for Evidence Action is to take evidence-based interventions to scale. We identify innovative, appropriate financing mechanisms and build best practice operational models to cost-effectively impact millions of people." Evidence Action will also benefit IPA's research by sharing lessons learned that can help research projects anticipate and plan for scale from the start.
 
For more information on the new collaboration click here.
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About Innovations for Poverty Action
 
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is dedicated to discovering what works to help the world's poor. Established in 2002, IPA designs and evaluates programs in real contexts with real people, and provides hands-on assistance to bring successful programs to scale. IPA partners with researchers in top universities and implementing organizations around the world to ensure that poverty-fighting activities are supported by rigorous evaluation. IPA shares the evidence generated with development practitioners, policymakers and donors, and provides technical assistance and support to governments and non-governmental actors to implement successful programs and bring them to scale around the world. IPA has ongoing research operations in 51 countries across Africa; North and South America; and South and South East Asia. Additional information can be found at www.poverty-action.org.
 
About Evidence Action
 
Evidence Action scales proven development interventions and crafts resilient business models for long run success. Evidence Action is committed to only scale interventions whose efficacy is backed by substantial rigorous evidence, and to target cost-effective interventions that can potentially improve the lives of millions. IPA has supported the creation of Evidence Action, and the two organizations will continue to work together closely to ensure that rigorous evidence is used in the most effective way to impact the lives of the vulnerable around the world. Additional information can be found at www.evidenceaction.org.
 
 
Contact: Jeffrey Mosenkis
Innovations for Poverty Action

IPA's US Household Finance Initiative Announces New Request for Proposals for Innovative New Financial Products

GRANT AWARDS TO PROMOTE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF INNOVATIVE FINANCIAL PRODUCTS SERVING LOW AND MODERATE-INCOME AMERICANS

New Haven, August 12, 2013 - Innovations for Poverty Action’s US Household Finance Initiative (USHFI) is pleased to present a unique Request for Proposals (RFP) designed to encourage financial service providers of all types and sizes to develop and market test new ideas in financial products and product features to help low and moderate-income populations pay down debt, build assets, and increase financial resilience.
 
USHFI released the new Request for Proposals on Friday for its Financial Products Innovation Fund.  This Fund was created as a joint effort between IPA’s US Household Finance Initiative and the Ford Foundation to support the development of scalable, market-tested products that help households make better financial decisions, escape cycles of debt, build assets and achieve financial resiliency.
 
The second round of the Fund will rigorously evaluate two of the most promising innovations from the first round of the Fund, and will also fund four new pilots. The new grants of $15,000 will provide catalyst funding to implementing financial institutions and financial service providers for year-long pilots of innovative products.
 
From 2011 to 2013 the Fund supported seven pilots of innovative behaviorally-informed financial products with partners ranging from credit unions to for-profit financial institutions to non-profit financial counseling agencies. Product innovations included a credit card designed to reduce consumer’s reliance on credit cards, and savings accounts that allow underbanked check cashing clients to seamlessly make savings deposits when cashing their checks. Full descriptions of all seven projects can be found on the Fund’s website: /ushouseholdfinance/fordpilots
 
“This second round of the Financial Products Innovation Fund will build on what we learned from the first set of pilots. We also look forward to bringing in new ideas from new financial service partners and new researchers," said Jonathan Zinman, professor of economics at Dartmouth College and Scientific Director of IPA’s US Household Finance Initiative. 
 
Financial Products Innovation Fund II invites financial institutions small and large, online and brick-and-mortar, for-profit and not-for-profit to contact us about potential product innovations. The RFP provides details on ideas USHFI is already excited about testing, but the Fund also welcomes new ideas that practitioners can then refine with behavioral economists from USHFI’s research network. The proposal development process is collaborative with USHFI research network members so proposals may start with a simple expression of interest, to USHFI Project Coordinator, Julia Brown, jbrown@poverty-action.org.
 
Complete applications are due October 14, 2013, and an informational webinar on September 10, 2013 will provide more detail to potential applicants. Grantees will be notified of award in November 2013 and awards will be made in December 2013.
 
The Financial Products Innovation Fund and IPA’s US Household Finance Initiative are supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation. Please consult the full RFP, and for more information about IPA’s US Household Finance Initiative, go to www.poverty-action.org/ushouseholdfinance.
 
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About Innovations for Poverty Action

Innovations for Poverty Action is a nonprofit organization dedicated to discovering what works to help the world’s poor. The organization designs and evaluates programs in real contexts with real people, and provides hands-on assistance to bring successful programs to scale. For more information, visit www.poverty-action.org or email contact@poverty-action.org.

SME Initiative Launches New RFP

The Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) Initiative is pleased to announce that it is now accepting a FIFTH ROUND of applications for it its Competitive Research Fund on Entrepreneurship and SME Growth. The goal of this fund is to support innovative research that is in line with the initiative's objective to build a systemic body of evidence on the contributions of SME growth to poverty alleviation and economic development. We hope that this competition will have a catalyzing effect to stimulate high quality research that can produce relevant evidence to innovate, implement and scale programs that promote SME growth.  For this round of grants, complete proposals should be emailed to sme@poverty-action.org by 5:00 pm EST on April 15, 2013.

Please see the full RFP description, the application form, and budgeting guidelines.

Dispensers for Safe Water Wins Stone Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Water

 
We are very excited to announce that our Dispensers for Safe Water initiative has been awarded the Stone Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Water. The prize was awarded by the Stone Family Foundation as the outcome of a competition which began in May. An astounding 175 water initiatives from 37 countries competed, and the review included assessment by an international panel of water experts as well as an on-the-ground evaluation.
 
The DSW initiative was chosen based on the program's innovative model and proven impact. This is a tremendous validation of IPA's approach to incubating programs founded on rigorous research evidence, and supporting innovative efforts to further develop promising interventions and take them to scale. It also demonstrates the potential for DSW's continued success as we mark the next phase in the program's evolution.
 
We'd like to congratulate the DSW team, the Kenya and Uganda Country Programs, the chlorine dispenser researchers and everyone at IPA's headquarters who has supported the work which made this achievement possible!  You can read more about the prize, and other projects cited at http://www.thesff.com.

 

Dean Karlan and Aishwarya Ratan speaking at Pop Tech

 

Pop Tech

IPA president and founder Dean Karlan, along with Global Financial Inclusion Initiative Director and 2012 Pop Tech fellow Aishwarya Ratan will be speaking this Saturday at the Pop Tech conference. This gathering of notable speakers will focus on the resilience theme, and you can check out the whole conference schedule here. You can also tune in to stream the conference, and don't miss their panel "The Means of Change” on Saturday Oct. 20th at 11AM, Eastern US time.

SME Initiative Announces Third Round of RFP

The SME Initiative is pleased to announce a THIRD ROUND of funding for the SME Initiative's Competition on Entrepreneurship and SME Growth. The goal of the grants is to fund innovative research that “build a systemic body of evidence on the contribution of SMEs and entrepreneurship to poverty alleviation and economic development.” We hope this competition will have a catalyzing effect to stimulate high quality research on the role of access to finance and human capital for SME growth and their contribution to development. 

Complete proposals should be emailed to sme@poverty-action.org by 5:00pm EST on Friday, March 16, 2012.  If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Craig (scraig@poverty-action.org).

See: SME Request for Proposal, Proposal Template, Budgeting Guidlines

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