From Custodians Of Traditional Knowledge To Community Change Agents

Deepanshu Khandelwal, Kanika Joshi | March 17, 2020

Kanika Joshi and Deepanshu Khandelwal share stories from their recent visit to Bikaner, Rajasthan, where they were present as part of LEAD’s collaboration with Rangsutra. Rangsutra is an artisan collective that has empowered and transformed the lives of thousands of artisans across the country. LEAD is supporting Rangsutra in their efforts toward digitizing their workflow and supply chain

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Mobiles for Mobilization: can ICT Innovations Empower Women?

Shruti Sheopurkar | November 29, 2019

In this month’s story from the field, Research Associate Shruti Sheopurkar shares field notes and insights from a series of focus group discussions with women on the use of ICT and mobile phones. Twenty kilometers outside Raipur city in the village of Munrethi, Kavita, a masonry worker, welcomes us into her home with warm cups of tea. As we settle down on the chatai in her front yard, we are joined by seven women from her Self Help Group. Amidst

Has Demonetisation Fostered a ‘Shift to Digital’ for the Banked Poor

Preethi Rao, Suraj Nair, Shruti Korada | November 29, 2019

Two years ago, the government of India made a significant move by withdrawing from circulation India’s most frequently used bank notes. The ultimate aim of this move was to create a corruption-free and cashless society. Early evidence indicates that digital payments skyrocketed after the Rs. 500 (about $8) and Rs. 1,000 ($16) notes were withdrawn from the economy (incidentally, these notes represented 86 percent of the value of currency in circulation at that point). Before demonetisation (between April and October

How a Human Touch Agent can Make a Difference in Promoting Digital Financial Services

Misha Sharma, Shreya Chatterjee | September 21, 2017

It was almost three in the afternoon when we arrived at Padma’s house in the sleepy village of Katpadi in Tamil Nadu. In a state where 55 percent of women in rural areas don’t participate in the labor force, Padma is the only business correspondent (BC) in her village, working for the sole bank in the area. In 2006, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) passed guidelines that allowed banks to employ third party agents, using decentralized technology to provide banking services

Shifting Gears: On RCTs and Beyond

Mridulya Narasimhan, Advitha Arun | July 4, 2017

In addition to clinical biologists (and probably their assistants), every development-research enthusiast nowadays is fairly familiar with the term ‘Randomized Control Trials’ or RCTs, as they are fondly known. Since their inception in the early 2000s, RCTs have influenced research  in development economics, and consequently, careers of several aspiring economists or ‘randomistas’ (Ravallion, 2009).  Fast forward 17 years and today we ask ourselves the question ‘are RCTs the only way to measure and evaluate impact?’ or ‘are RCTs subject to availability

On MSME Day, Recognizing the Potential of Small Businesses in the Indian Economy

Kanika Joshi | June 28, 2017

Small businesses are often hubs of entrepreneurship, employment and innovation, thereby playing a crucial role in the socio-economic development of any nation. In a much appreciated move, the United Nations (UN) general assembly on recently designated 27 June as Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) Day. The General Assembly invited all 193 Member States, organizations of the UN system, other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations, academia, individuals, to observe the day in accordance

The Digital Age of Financial Services

Prachi Agarwal | October 24, 2016

Technology is disrupting the traditional banking and finance landscape in India, across a spectrum of services – credit, payments, savings and insurance. In this article, Prachi Agarwal profiles some upcoming fintech companies that are finding solutions to a variety of traditional financial roadblocks.    Digital technology is disrupting traditional financial services in India by expanding access and putting customer centricity and convenience at the fore. Innovative digital solutions are successfully starting to address the challenges with which traditional financial service delivery processes

Can Big Data be Big in South Asia?

Parul Agarwal, Shreya Chatterjee,Tanjilut Tasnuba | October 24, 2016

How can emerging economies tap into the benefits of big data for financial inclusion? This article draws on a panel discussion on Big Data, hosted by IFMR LEAD and BRAC at the What Works Global Summit 2016 in London recently. Authors Parul Agarwal, Shreya Chatterjee, and Tanjilut Tasnuba (team leader, BRAC) explore crucial questions related to the advantages and challenges in utilizing big data to promote financial inclusion in the South Asian context. What is Big Data for Financial Inclusion?

Digitizing Self-Help Groups in India

Despite efforts from all quarters, 2 billion people globally are still excluded from formal sources of financial services. Digital financial inclusion has emerged as the new wave in the hope that it will reach the last mile consumer in the most convenient and affordable manner. In the context of India, digital financial inclusion is still a work in progress. As per the 2015 Financial Inclusion Insight survey, 49 percent of Indian adults are digitally included – i.e., they have digital access to

Assisted Models of Digital Finance – A Stepping Stone?

Parul Agarwal, Suraj Nair | June 21, 2016

This is the second article in a series on the progress of digital financial services in Bangladesh. It draws on discussions held at a recent seminar on the subject, organized by BRAC’s Social Innovation Lab in Dhaka, in collaboration with a2i, and USAID’s mSTAR project implemented by FHI 360. IFMR LEAD was the Knowledge Partner for the event.  In the first part of this series, we highlighted gender gaps in access to mobile financial services and their usage among women in Bangladesh. In this article, we take a