Brookings has released a report on the state of access to finance in developing countries, taking a specific look at the lessons learned from the mobile banking sector in Kenya. The report paints a troubling picture of the state of financial access in many developing countries, but then gives some reasons for optimism.
First, the bad news:
Despite economists’ frequent assumption that humans are rational economic agents, let’s admit it, we have limitations; we may be weak, altruistic, easily manipulated or scatter-brained among many other things. Thus, results based on, say field experiments relying on one-off interviews may tend to miss a lot of that important human behavior.
While IFC is strengthening its involvement in India, China is deepening its economic ties in Africa.
IFC chief executive Lars Thunell is in Delhi this week, attending the World Economic Forum's India Economic Summit. Thunell is looking to boost the IFC's capital base by $2.4bn, much of which will be dedicated to the world's poorest countries and regions, including India.
David Roodman, a fellow at the Center for Global Development, set off a storm with a post on the popular microfinance organization Kiva. Many lenders on the sight probably had the impression this was a peer-to-peer lending sight, but David reveals this is not quite so. Kiva connects lenders to microfinance institutions, not individual microentrepreneurs.
Yesterday I attended the World Bank's book launch of Bringing Finance to Pakistan's Poor: Access to Finance for Small Enterprises and the Underserved. The authors, Tatiana Nenova and Ceclie Thioro Niang, interviewed 10,000 households from across Pakistan's geographic and socio-economic landscape, including both men and women.
A few months ago, I attended the World Bank's conference on Diaspora for Development, hosted by Dilip Ratha, lead economist at the World Bank. The general feeling at that time was that remittance flows would contract significantly this year, but, paradoxically, would become a more important source of external financing in many countries, as foreign direct investment had dropped by up to 50 percent.