Most microfinance institutions follow a rigid contract model: clients repay loans in weekly installments beginning shortly after disbursement. Researchers tested two features of these contracts, repayment frequency and the time of the first repayment, to determine if characteristics of the loan contract affect borrowers’ repayment behavior and the types of investments they make. They found that less frequent repayments did not increase defaults.

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Lack of managerial capital remains one of the core challenges to SME growth in developing countries. However, rigorous evidence on the impact of programs focused on improving managerial skills is limited. This study evaluates a program which offers training and consulting for managerial staff in garment factories. It focuses on understanding how new management practices are adopted and implemented and what determines their success.

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Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) have been shown to increase investments in education and health, but their standard features make them expensive.
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Can non-financial incentives improve the performance of health care workers in countries with cash-strapped health systems? In this study, researchers evaluated the impact of two types of non-financial incentives aimed at improving the quality of healthcare and the utilization of services at health clinics in Sierra Leone. 

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In Malawi, most of the population works in agriculture and many people grow just enough food to survive, sometimes less. Agricultural technology can enable farmers to grow more food, but questions remain about how to get farmers to adopt new technologies and more efficient farming methods. Researchers in this study examine if certain established social networks can break down information barriers and increase adoption of new agricultural technology in Malawi. 

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In the United States, private giving to charitable causes has grown significantly in the past several decades. Among the tactics commonly used to solicit donations are matching gifts. This study explored the importance of price on charitable giving by randomly varying the rates of matching gifts and measuring the subsequent effect on donations.

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We evaluate a novel microfinance model in which new customers need to gain sponsorship by an existing customer. We investigate how relationships between individuals and social networks impact repayment behaviour. This individual lending program screens clients and enforces good practices much in the same way as more traditional group lending does, but allows microcredit to be extended to those who might not qualify or be interested in a group liability loan.

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Microcredit is often offered in conjunction with financial education services to train clients through pre-existing infrastructure. In Peru, researchers attempted to evaluate the impact of a technology-based financial literacy program on microcredit clients’ financial behavior. However, low implementation levels led to a discontinuation of the evaluation.

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Accessing safe drinking water is a major challenge in many developing countries. In order to improve access to safe drinking water, Relief International (RI) has developed a rainwater storage device (RSD), which consists of a rubber bag approximately 1.5m across and 1.5m tall when full. Researchers are evaluating this new technology in Kamwenge district in Uganda. 

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In sub-Saharan Africa, many of the region’s poor are small-scale farmers. While certain agronomic practices, such as pruning tree crops, can substantially increase yields, take-up of many such practices remains low, potentially resulting in lower yields and profits. In Rwanda, researchers worked with TechnoServe to evaluate the impact of an agronomy training program on farmers’ knowledge and use of best practices in coffee-growing.

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Growing evidence from psychology and behavioral economics research shows that behavior can be influenced by leveraging social norms and emotions. Researchers examined the effect of a series of informational messages on participation in a recycling program in Peru. The messages sought to elicit pressures such as social norms, peer comparison, conformity, authority, and the environmental or social benefits to increased participation.

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Researchers study how cash advances and information delivered via text messages can encourage farmers to adopt efficient agricultural practices and new crop varieties.

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Throughout the developing world, the family owned business is the most common form of enterprise. Though these types of businesses are prevalent, there is tremendous heterogeneity in the success of such firms. For instance, in the retail sector, some firms hold large inventories and earn significant profits, while others hold minimal stocks and provide little more than subsistence income for their owners.

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Many subsistence entrepreneurs in developing countries do not maintain adequate business records which may limit their ability to streamline business operations and increase profits. This exploratory study was designed to explore take up and role of a new mobile application in helping small shopkeepers in Colombia to keep records, create business reports and manage other business tasks.

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Demand for nontraditional cookstoves in Bangladesh is very low. While women—who bear disproportionate responsibility for cooking—have stronger preferences for improved stoves, they lack the authority to make purchase decisions.

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The addition of health insurance to microcredit products is increasingly popular; but is it sustainable for microfinance institutions? This study complements other IPA research on hospitalization insurance in the Philippines and should provide important policy lessons on providing public services.

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The majority of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. Traditional power companies often find it too costly to bring electricity to rural and suburban areas, but in recent years, the cost of alternative energy sources like solar power has fallen dramatically.

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