IPA’s weekly links

Guest Post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

  • IPA’s looking to fund research in financial services for the poor (especially digital ones), deadline Nov 4th.
  • José A. Quiñonez of the Mission Asset Fund in San Francisco was named a MacArthur Fellow (or “genius”) for his work formalizing informal lending among immigrants to create credit histories, which in turn gives them access to credit cards, loans, and the like.
  • Bruce Wydick and colleagues’ second paper from an RCT evaluating the effects of TOMS shoes in El Salvador came out, concluding:

Thus, in a context where most children already own at least one pair of shoes, the overall impact of the shoe donation program appears to be negligible, illustrating the importance of more careful targeting of in-kind donation programs.

They found no evidence that the program improved food security, and there were some indications that the program decreased the food security of non-beneficiaries living in the same communities as program participants.

When a big or well-known program is evaluated and turns out not to have a detectable effect, I’m always impressed at the guts of the org/government who agreed to an independent evaluation and to make it public for others to learn from it as well. Bruce has written eloquently about this in the TOMS case here and here.

(And if your problem with TOMS was the style, there’s a new socially-minded shoe on the block you’re not going to like.)

  • Under the guise of looking at the Clinton Foundation, Dylan Matthews tells the behind the scenes story of how the Clinton Global Health Initiative saved millions of lives by helping convince pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of HIV drugs in poor countries, which involved radically changing their business model. It’s easy to forget that HIV treatment used to cost $10,000/yr for one person.
  • A somewhat technical but pretty good data detective story about how investigative journalists responded when the water utility in L.A. wouldn’t tell them who was using millions of extra gallons of water during the drought. They used satellite and GIS data to unmask “The Wet Prince of Bel Air.”
  • Lots of great links I didn’t have room for on the Development Impact Blog today.

Proof that 6-year-olds are better at policy than most politicians, (and probably better at appropriate use of Skittles):


Photo credit above: Tugela Ridley