Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is dedicated to discovering and promoting effective solutions to global poverty problems. Established in 2002, IPA partners with researchers at top universities and implementing organizations around the world to ensure that poverty-fighting activities are supported by rigorous evaluation, and we work closely with local decision makers in key countries to ensure that the high-quality evidence is applied at scale. IPA has completed more than 125 studies, and we have more than 225 in progress around the world, covering education, health, agriculture, financial services, governance, water and sanitation, and post-conflict recovery. Within a decade, IPA has grown to over 900 staff working on building and promoting evidence in 51 countries. For more information, visit www.poverty-action.org.
The Global Financial Inclusion Initiative (GFII), managed by IPA, works to identify innovative products and programs that enhance poor households’ access to and usage of improved financial products, services, and tools. The Initiative is focused on three key areas of research within the financial inclusion domain:
The poor can and do save. In fact, saving is critical to households whose income flows do not match their daily consumption needs, much less their need to plan for risks and make investments. GFII studies innovations that help individuals to access savings services, overcome temptation and social demands, and build savings habits, while measuring the impact of meeting one’s savings goals, on consumption, investment, and risk mitigation.
The ability to move money from one location to another is critical to allowing personal, business, and government transactions to occur. Innovations in payment channels, driven by the widespread use of technologies such as mobile phones, allow the poor to transact in a faster, cheaper, and more secure manner. Our studies measure the impact of these new transaction mechanisms on the welfare of the poor.
Simply having access to financial products and services is only part of the solution to maintaining a healthy financial portfolio. Individuals must also know how to choose and use the right products based on their specific needs, and know how to balance products and services to optimize sustenance and growth. GFII assesses the effectiveness of various innovative tools designed to help the poor make better decisions on their own financial portfolios.
GFII manages two research funds to address these evidence and innovation gaps: the Yale Savings and Payments Research Fund supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Citi IPA Financial Capability Research Fund supported by the Citi Foundation. For more information, visit www.poverty-action.org/financialinclusion.