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Innovations for Poverty Action Newsletter
Fall 2011

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A Note from Dean

Welcome to our Fall 2011 Newsletter!

As many of you have witnessed, IPA has grown tremendously since its inception nearly 10 years ago. For me, it continues to be a true thrill to lead IPA, contribute as a researcher, and have the benefit of an amazing team to get us to where we are. With an eye on future growth, IPA’s Board of Directors and I have selected Annie Duflo as the new Executive Director after previously serving as Vice President and Research Director. I will remain as President of IPA, but Annie will take on the immense role of overseeing day-to-day operations and implementing IPA’s strategic plan.

Read IPA’s full press release here, or download the PDF.

To find out more about what we've been up to, you can also download our Annual Report for 2010.


Dean Karlan

Project Spotlight: Trade Credit Study Received USAID DIV Grant

USAID's new Development Innovation Ventures fund (DIV) recently awarded a grant to an IPA project intending to facilitate small business growth in Kenya.

Trade Credit Photo 2Many Kenyan shops and kiosks purchase small quantities of non-perishable goods at high frequency for resale. These shopkeepers typically face challenges in obtaining trade credit, even though access to this type of credit could be essential to helping them expand their inventory and thus their businesses.

Led by researchers Tavneet Suri, William Jack, and Chris Woodruff and program partners, IPA's study will provide short-term trade credit to a sample of retail outlets, freeing up working capital for other short-term uses that could contribute to business growth. In collaboration with Financial Sector Deepening (FSD), Equity Bank’s in-house mobile banking platform will be used to execute loan transactions to Coca-Cola Bottling Company (CCBC) vendors. CCBC will build real-time payment monitoring directly into its central inventory management technology to provide a quicker response if and when borrowers fall behind on payments, making the product more viable for a larger number of retailers.

If proven successful by the evaluation, the partners are committed to expanding this project, with researchers noting that “the increasing availability of mobile payments systems makes scalability throughout and beyond Kenya feasible.”

Read the project summary here, and check out USAID’s blog post on the DIV award.

Project Spotlight: Peace Education in Rural Liberia

Governments and NGOs commonly try to change the political culture, civic values, and practices of conflict resolution at the local level through widespread dialogue, education, and information campaigns. Dialogue and education campaigns are at the core of Liberia’s present peace-building strategy, as many see the lack of equitable mechanisms for resolving local conflicts as root causes of past and future instability. But do these programs actually work as intended?

Rural Liberia Peace EducationThis study evaluated a program designed by UN’s Peacebuilding Commission and the Government of Liberia to promote non- violent dispute resolution and inter-group reconciliation. The randomized evaluation was conducted from 2009-2011 with a sample of 237 communities targeted within Liberia’s three most conflict-prone counties: Grand Geddeh, Lofa, and Nimba.

Analysis revealed that the most striking impacts were on conflict and its resolution, including: significant increases in non-violent inter-personal and inter-group disputes; suggestive evidence of a decrease in violent disputes; and increased rates of dispute resolution.

Click here to read the evaluation summary on our website, including detailed explanations of the intervention and of the results. You may also download a PDF policy report of the evaluation, or check out a second report on patterns of conflict in Liberia.

New Addition to our Research Affiliates

Clair NullWe are delighted to welcome Clair Null, Ph.D. as a new Research Affiliate. Dr. Null has already spent several years with IPA Kenya developing and testing Chlorine Dispensers for our Safe Water Program.

Dr. Null leads our WASH Benefits study as Principle Investigator, examining the benefits of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions. The study is supported by The University of California – Berkeley through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The Foundation recognized Dr. Null's work on identifying low-cost tools to facilitate safe disposal of children's feces, including the Latrine Training Mat, with a Grand Challenges Explorations Award.

We enthusiastically welcome her to our Research Affiliate family and look forward to presenting developments from the WASH Benefits study.

Recent Events

SME Initiative Annual Conference
IPA’s SME Initiative recently hosted its Annual Conference on November 30 at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC. The conference provided an opportunity to present results from some of the most current research on Entrepreneurship and SME Development in emerging markets to a broad stakeholder group of researchers, practitioners and policymakers. It began with a brief presentation on “What we know about SMEs and Development.” This introduction was followed by three sessions focusing on Access to Managerial Human Capital, Access to Finance, and Job Creation. The conference concluded with a panel discussion entitled: Why should we care about the “Missing Middle”?

Presenters included:
  • Antoinette Schoar, MIT-Sloan School of Management
  • Dean Karlan, Yale University
  • Nick Bloom, Stanford University
  • David McKenzie, World Bank
  • Philipp Schnabl, NYU-Stern School of Business
  • Chris Woodruff, Warwick University
The conference agenda is available here and presentations will be made available on the website shortly.
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Financial Times Business Book of the Year


IPA Affiliates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo’s book Poor Economics was awarded Financial Times and Goldman Sachs’ 2011 Book of the Year! Read more here.


IPA has earned the GuideStar Exchange Seal, demonstrating our “commitment to transparency of programs and finances in support of its mission.”

Guidestar Exchange Seal 3

As a recipient of this seal, we are eligible for GuideStar and KIMBIA’s 2011 Giving Season Giveaway – we can win $5,000 with your help! Donate as much as you can before December 31 and please share the link with your colleagues and friends today!

IPA in the News 


'Loot Camp' tries to give at-risk students financial smarts - CT Mirror, November 11th. A joint initiative between a local New Haven bank and IPA has been generating some buzz in the media.

Next Generation of Homeowners Are Freaked Out - The Wall Street Journal, October 17th. A new research paper by IPA Research Affiliate Julian Jamison of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank is cited in WSJ’s Real Time Economics blog.

Indian state of Bihar makes history with world’s largest school-based deworming program, IPA Press Release, October 2nd. IPA’s collaboration, the Deworm the World Initiative, helps achieve a historical record.

IPA's Photoblog Series

We are excited to introduce a new blog series, Global Lens.
Global LensThe series features entries from the inaugural IPA/J-PAL Photo Contest snapped by project staff around the world, with the photographers sharing their stories and perspective. We have had four posts so far.

Take a Look through the Global Lens

Donate to IPA

Season’s Greetings – the Holiday Season is upon us! If you’d like to give to IPA, to any of our scale-up programs, or to the Proven Impact Fund, please click here. We appreciate your generosity and consideration.

Come work with us!


IPA is currently  recruiting for a number of important positions based in the US, Africa, Latin America and Asia. For example, we have a recently created a Chief Operations Officer position.

Check out the IPA website for a listing of open positions.

Innovations for Poverty Action, 101 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06510, USA
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