Financial Inclusion

Mobile money gaining steam, but for what purpose?

December 7, 2011
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In the McKinsey online piece "Mobile money: A game changer for financial inclusion,"  the authors discuss the many successes of Kenya's well-regarded M-pesa, including the remarkable 55 percent increase in access to financial services within the first 3 years of M-pesa's launch. Of course this is good news, but there are other points to consider.

"Expenditure Cascades," Inequality and the Shrinking Middle Class

December 5, 2011

Yesterday Robert Frank published, on Slate, the first in a series of essays adapted from his new book, "The Darwin Economy."

President Calderon Announces Largest 'Banking the Poor' Effort in the World

December 2, 2011
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Yesterday in the Mexican municipality of Batopilas, President Felipe Calderon announced “the largest banking access program in the world that is targeted at the poorest people.” More than 6 million families, all current participants in Mexico’s government public benefit program Oportunidades, would benefit from the Calderon’s efforts, which he explained would help reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.

How are Families Really Doing?

December 1, 2011

Two years after the official end of worst recession since the Great Depression, the economy is recovering but families are not. According to a flurry of new data, poverty and inequality are reaching historic highs and the current of economic mobility is flowing most forcefully down the economic ladder. 

Kenya’s Leaders in the Financial Services and Savings Industry Gather in Nairobi for Joint SPINNAKER-FSD Workshop

December 1, 2011

This post originally appeared on the SPINNAKER Network.

On November 18th in Nairobi, Kenya, the Global Assets Project in partnership with FSD Kenya held a half-day industry workshop to share initial findings from the SPINNAKER Network’s recent landscape study on savings products in the country. Jamie Zimmerman presented on the study’s initial findings to Kenya’s policy makers, practitioners, and financial institution representatives, and facilitated various discussions on salient issues related to 1) access to financial services 2) client uptake of savings products and 3) regulatory hurdles facing institutions seeking to offer savings products to the poor.

Battling the Global Youth Bulge: Mobile Phones are Making New Connections Between Youth and Economic Opportunity

November 30, 2011
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Originally posted on

Born and raised in the slums of Cape Town amid poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence, Marlon Parker was like millions of youth living in hardship today.

Secretary of State Clinton Attends High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness

November 30, 2011

Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Busan, South Korea to attend the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. She’ll join about 2000 other representatives of governments, civil society organizations and the private sector to “review global progress in improving the impact and value for money of development aid and make new commitments to further ensure that aid helps reduce poverty and supports progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.” The Busan Forum follows earlier fora in Rome (2003), Paris (2005) and Accra (2008), all of which aimed to develop and outline principles for aid effectivness.

Summarizing the Research: Why Early Savings Leads to Later Savings

November 28, 2011
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In recent years, researchers and policymakers have offered up young people’s savings policies (e.g., Child Development Accounts [CDAs], the ASPIRE Act) as potential solutions for mitigating the effects of parents’ and households’ financial resources on young people's educational and financial outcomes. One question of interest is whether young people’s financial outcomes can be improved by extending access to basic financial services early in life. In other words, if you give someone a savings account in adolescence, do they maintain that account into young adulthood and beyond?

Asset Building: Wealth Inequality and Occupy Wall Street

November 17, 2011

In this podcast, Reid Cramer, director of the Asset Building Program at New America, describes the new dynamics of inequality that emerged in the wake of the Great Recession and have given rise to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Without dramatic changes to the housing market and policy efforts designed to get families out from under the overhang of debt, significant wealth inequality will persist for years to come. This is particularly apparent when recognizing the staggering growth of the racial wealth gap.

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