Grameen Foundation Insights

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At Grameen Foundation, our goal is to spur innovation in the global movement to eliminate extreme poverty. Part of that work is to develop better solutions and share them with people like you.

On GF Insights, we share lessons learned from our leaders in the field, news about efforts to expand access to financial and information services for the poor, and how poverty-focused organizations are using data to improve the way they work.

Latest Posts

02/19/2014 by Debbie Dean

Usability Tests in India

Mobile Financial Services (MFS) has received much attention as a way to further financial inclusion. But as we’ve written before, the mobile phone is not yet accessible enough to reach significant portions of the “unbanked”. Our research found that poor women in particular are left behind. Access, familiarity, convenience and security are significant issues.

At Grameen Foundation, we believe that these barriers can be addressed. We recently expanded on our initial research around gender and mobile financial services, taking a two-pronged approach. The first—which we’ll discuss here—was a partnership with InterMedia to utilize a mixed approach of qualitative and quantitative research methods in India and the Philippines. The second—which we’ll discuss in a separate posting next week—was a qualitative usability study in partnership with CKS in India, the Philippines, and Uganda.

02/08/2014 by
Bill Gates visits Grameen Foundation's MOTECH in Ghana

Bill Gates visits MOTECH, an mHealth joint initiative by Grameen Foundation and the Ghana Health Service

Comment boards lit up around the globe when Bill Gates declared that “by 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.” Not surprisingly, many scoffed at the idea, often citing examples from various countries. This reaction underscored an important fact that that was also highlighted in the Gates Annual Letter: outdated images of poverty are still very pervasive.

01/24/2014 by

By Juan Forero, Mobile Financial Services & Commercial Manager, Grameen Foundation

Though mobile phones and other technologies hold great promise for improving lives in poor, rural communities, there is still debate about how they can best be used to improve agricultural and rural development. Last November, Grameen Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hosted an e-forum to discuss some of the central successes and challenges of emerging and established technologies. The result was a timely dialogue that will inform discussions at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10) Summit, to be held in Egypt this year.[1]

Throughout the wide-ranging exchange, several key topics came to the fore that deserve closer scrutiny in 2014: the influence of measurement, the impact of gender, and the role of public-private partnerships.

01/15/2014 by Alex Counts

Just as increasing use of a “gender lens” has transformed thinking about and the practice of international development in recent decades, so too can behavioral economics in the near future.  In some cases, this discipline explains and reaffirms current practice.  In other cases, the study of behavioral economics provides an alternative explanation of why some things work and others don’t.  In still other cases, it suggests that current thinking and so-called “best practices” are wrong and counter-productive.  Now and then, it prompts us to consider readopting a practice that has fallen out of favor. 

Now, I will comment on the specific insights and implications I see for microfinance and international development when looked at through a behavioral economics lens.

01/13/2014 by Alex Counts

The field of behavioral economics – the intersection of psychology and economics – is fairly new.  This is a partial explanation of why its lessons have not yet been applied much to microfinance and anti-poverty programs generally.  But this is clearly changing, and none-too-soon, as microfinance in particular is in need of reinvention and rebranding. 

In fact, I am coming to believe that thoughtful applications of behavioral economics can be a central part of defining and realizing the idea of “responsible microfinance” that the Microfinance CEO Working Group and others are championing and also “full financial inclusion” that moves the dial on poverty. 

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