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Press Release
October 06, 2021

October 2021. JAKARTA, INDONESIA — A new survey from Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Indonesia shows that despite ambitions for growth, women-owned micro, small, and medium enterprises face significant barriers in accessing financial services, especially credit.

Researchers conducted phone surveys of 500 women entrepreneurs in North Sulawesi and South Sumatra from April—May 2021. Businesses were identified through the 2016 Economic Census and filtered based on their “growth potential.” Researchers used criteria from MCC to identify entrepreneurs operating in high-growth...

Digital loan.png
September 30, 2021

Digital credit has transformed access to finance for hundreds of millions of consumers across the world. Through this innovation in loan delivery—characterized as “instant, automated, and remote”—people can now get loans over their phones in mere minutes. This has expanded financial access in ways never previously possible but has also led to concerns regarding aggressive marketing, high prices, and consumer risks of debt stress, such as in IPA’s recent analysis of digital credit transaction data in Kenya.

Given the potential to expand access to formal financial services digital...

Media Coverage
August 31, 2021

Zambia's news24 cites IPAs RECOVR survey of economic conditions in the country in coverage of factors affecting voters there.

Media Coverage
July 30, 2021

The Free Press Journal reports on a study providing women in Madhya Pradesh with bank accounts in their own names and direct deposit of wages to giving them greater access to and control over their earnings. The program increased women's working, particularly among those whose husbands had previously been most opposed to women working.

a2i center, Rajbari, Bangladesh
July 07, 2021

Editor's note: This is the third in a series of posts about adapting an ongoing policy project about digital payments with Bangladesh’s government to the current COVID-19 crisis. While the characters in this article, Kamala and her daughter, are fictional, their experience is based on that of many women IPA interviewed in our latest monitoring survey.

Mobile money clients outside an a2i center in Rajabari, Bangladesh. Photo: UNSGSA/Ismael Ferdous.

Kamala is walking home after buying food for her family with money she received through a government social...

Media Coverage
April 30, 2021

IPA founder Dean Karlan speaks alongside banking and financial inclusion experts and providers on NPR's Studio 1A program. Among the many points discussed was research showing mixed effectiveness of many well-intentioned financial inclusion efforts, including small loans designed to build credit scores for those previously outside the financial system. A randomized evaluation conducted with IPA found the average impact was zero, but that was because the loans helped some and hurt others. Karlan points out the need for more systematic testing of financial products designed to help the poor...

Zambia RECOVR 2 Timeline
April 20, 2021

As part of IPA’s ongoing research around the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, we recently held a webinar with the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network highlighting key results of the second round of the RECOVR surveys in Zambia and Rwanda. This blog post summarizes the main findings of the survey in Zambia and policy recommendations. Click here for the blog for Rwanda.

In both countries, there are pockets of progress, including continued adherence to certain virus mitigation measures and promising acceptance rates for vaccinations. Education remains a key concern for parents of...

February 18, 2021

This piece was first published on the blog of the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) here.

A group of women in Sierra Leone interviewed during the research process. Photo: United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)

How many consumers share their PIN with someone else? Which consumers are more likely to pay more fees on their bank accounts? These are the kinds of questions that need to be asked when developing consumer protection policies. But the answers to these questions don’t appear in the reports banks submit to their regulators, or in the documents...

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February 04, 2021

In July 2020, we highlighted Sierra Leone’s experience confronting COVID-19 from the vantage point of a fragile state—one that lived through civil war and, more recently, another acute public health crisis with Ebola in 2014, as well as a damaging mudslide in Freetown in 2017. Drawing on lessons learned from Ebola, Sierra Leone moved to close schools at the end of March, instituted a series of lockdowns in April and May, closed land borders for several months, and instituted a national mask mandate beginning in June. The government also prioritized more community-focused, tailored...

Media Coverage
January 05, 2021

La República covers the impact of an IPA-valued VAT cash assistance program on building household financial resilience during the pandemic.

IPA Logo
December 29, 2020

Editor’s Note: this is the second in a series of posts about adapting an ongoing policy project about digital payments with Bangladesh’s government to the current COVID-19 crisis.   In the first blog post of this series published in May, IPA was newly transitioning to phone surveys during the pandemic. IPA has been working with A2i, a branch of the Bangladesh government which helps to ensure access to public services, to help monitor the digitization process of government social support payments to three vulnerable populations: elderly pensioners, widows, and disabled people by transitioning...
Media Coverage
September 29, 2020

Vox reviews recent updates and evidence in mobile money, including a study on the impact of providing access to mobile money accounts in Kenya. The piece reflects on how research like this can inform efforts to support the world's unbanked people.

Food security
July 10, 2020

By Charles Amoatey, Elliott Collins, and Madeleen Husselman

In March, Ghana, like much of the world, adopted social distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Measures included the closings of schools and universities, suspension of gatherings of over 25 people, and partial lockdowns in major urban areas. 

So far, like most West African countries, Ghana has avoided the worst of the virus’s health toll. However, in low- and middle-income countries like Ghana, the pandemic’s socio-economic consequences may exceed the immediate health ones and even cost more lives....

Media Coverage
June 29, 2020

In Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, IPA's Director of Financial Inclusion Rebecca Rouse and researcher Farah Said discuss the threat that COVID-19 poses to Pakistan's microfinance sector. The op-ed draws on findings from an IPA-funded study in which Said and her co-researchers surveyed microenterprise owners soon after the pandemic's onset. More information about the study, including the full working paper, is available here.

A busy street in Dhaka
May 22, 2020


Editor’s Note: this is the first in a series of posts about adapting an ongoing policy project about digital payments with Bangladesh’s government to the current COVID-19 crisis.

On one of many trips to Bangladesh, I met Rohima, whose story stuck with me. At the age of 22, Rohima moved from a rural village, leaving behind her two young children under the care of their grandparents, so she could work in one of the many Dhaka garment factories. The list of challenges she had to immediately figure out (and with no formal education) was staggering—how to get around, her new...