Report: The costs of using Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) products

InSPIRE : Informal Sector Policy Interventions and Research Engagements

Dvara Research is pleased to announce the inaugural of our new platform called InSPIRE or Informal Sector Policy Interventions and Research Engagements. The mission of InSPIRE is to research and advocate for policy action to provide adequate levels of social and livelihoods protection for the informal sector in India.

We began the InSPIRE journey in April 2020, when Dvara Research began to host a series of conference calls every Tuesday, as a means of staying in touch with all of our partners in the financial inclusion and social protection arenas, and of informing ourselves about the significant challenges that were beginning to arise for low-income households and the informal sector in the early weeks of lockdown. During the months of lockdown and beyond, the fortnightly Tuesday conference calls became a venue for very productive interchanges among a diverse group of researchers and practitioners, from across the spectrum, India and abroad. In 2021, we are continuing this tradition under the InSPIRE banner.

The InSPIRE platform aims to accomplish its mission by hosting discussions among key stakeholders every fortnightly Tuesday, and using these discussions to learn about research and action-projects that are ongoing as well as to originate new ideas for research and action-projects that group members can individually or jointly pursue. All discussions will be off-the-record, and no press will be present. The spirit of engagement among group members will be collaborative and one of learning together so that the urgent challenges of social and livelihoods protection for the informal sector in India may be met with a sense of added urgency and joint purpose by the group.

The following table provides information on the sessions we have had so far. We do record the sessions but because of their off-the-record nature, we are not making the recordings available online. If you’d like to request the recording of a particular session, or seek to know more about a particular talk, please fill out the contact form below, or send an email to inspire@dvara.com.

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Date Session Title Speaker Synopsis

Jan 19, 2021 

Building on LibTech India’s collective experience of working on NREGA and the three state (Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan) survey, LibTech India released a report titled ‘Length of the Last Mile: Delays & Hurdles in NREGA Wage Payments’ in November, 2020. The report is an attempt to document the perspective of the workers in accessing their own wages. In this session, Sakina and Rajendran presented some key observations from the report.

Feb 02, 2021 

Ecuador has a long history of migrant and refugee reception, where historical trend has grown in the last 5 years with large numbers of Venezuelans choosing to remain and reside in Ecuador. As of September 2020, Ecuador estimates 400 thousand Venezuelan economic refugees living in the country. One of their stories is that of “Nia” a young Venezuelan who participated in the underground financial remittance system made possible by Ecuador’s dollarized economy. In this session, Natalia Espinosa Tokuhama discussed the mechanics of the remittances scheme, as well as contrasted the financial health with that of internal Ecuadorian migrants to the city.

Feb 16, 2021 

The COVID-19 crisis has really tested the entrepreneurial ecosystem. In this session, Sharon Buteau discussed interesting insights gathered through a rapid periodic assessment of Indian microenterprises from June 2020 to October 2020 (GAME/LEAD collaboration), to shine a light on how they have navigated challenging circumstances posed by the crisis across multiple business dimensions and employment.

Mar 02, 2021 

As a follow-up to our previous work on exclusion in welfare schemes, Dvara Research, in collaboration with Gram Vaani (GV), undertook a study encompassing an analysis of complaints from citizens unable to access welfare benefits and the resolution pathways that were used by GV volunteers to assist such citizens. We covered welfare beneficiaries across seven DBT schemes, MGNREGA, PDS, and Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. The study highlights how a citizen/volunteer navigates the welfare labyrinth across the various administrative tiers of scheme implementation and underscores the need to revisit the design of grievance redress mechanisms in welfare delivery.

Mar 16, 2021 

Online needs offline: Architectures for digital inclusivity

Study: Last Mile Access to Urban Governance

Study: Restoring Agency: Modified Choice Approach

The Last Mile Access research is a year-long empirical, mixed-methods study conducted by Aapti Institute in partnership with Omidyar Network India and eGovernments Foundation. The study explores existing pathways to government services for marginalised citizens in the context of digital platforms. The key takeaway of this study is the role of offline architectures including human intermediaries, processes, and mechanisms that sit alongside tech to amplify reach and access for last-mile citizens.

Mar 30, 2021 

How has bank branch expansion changed in pace and coverage with different policies of RBI? We develop a novel measure of financial access at the village level by finding the Euclidean distance of unbanked villages to the nearest village or town with bank branch for each year from 1951-2019. We use this measure of financial access to study different bank branch expansion policies over last seven decades. Particularly, we observe how proximity to banks changes in four different regimes of bank branch expansion—pre-Social Banking Phase (1950-1969), Social Banking Phase (1969-1990), Liberalization Period 1 (1990-2005) and Liberalization Period 2 (2005 onwards). We find that social banking policy led to a rapid decline in distance and, thereby, increased financial access. These gains became restricted from 1990 to 2005 as the policy of mandatory quotas on bank branch opening was withdrawn. However, financial access improved again from 2005 onwards when RBI withdrew service area approach rules on lending in rural markets and introduced incentive-led policies for bank branch expansion. The results suggest that sound, predictable and incentive driven methods can provide both efficiency and equity of public service provision. The possibility to replicate our measure of financial access in other areas of policy is discussed in conclusion.

Apr 13, 2021 

Government of India’s response to COVID-19 pandemic – A demand-side perspective

The talk featured the results from the first two rounds of a demand-side study that MicroSave Consulting (MSC) is conducting. The first round was conducted in May 2020, the second in September 2020, and a third-round is planned for May 2021. The objective of this study is to gauge the demand-side effectiveness of state government interventions during COVID-19, and thereby to help central and state governments improve the implementation of COVID-specific measures to secure the poor and vulnerable from economic shocks. The demand-side study complements the work that MSC undertook in 2020 with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India, wherein the response and readiness of state governments to address COVID-19 was systematically tracked and periodic reports submitted to the MHA with a relative ranking of states and good practices for states to learn from each other. In all, four reports were submitted between April 2020 and July 2020, and widely circulated within the central and state governments.

Apr 27, 2021 

The world was not ready for Covid-19. But we could have been. We could have been prepared for the many climate-related disasters, famines, conflicts and global health threats of the past decade. We have the science and expertise to monitor and forecast risks, yet we still treat disasters as surprises. We have the financial know-how to have money in place when disaster strikes, yet households, communities, and even countries still end up passing around a begging bowl. This work harnesses lessons from finance, political science, economics, psychology, and the natural sciences to show how countries and their partners can be far better prepared to deal with disasters. The insights can lead to practical ways in which governments, civil society, private firms, and international organizations can work together to reduce the risks to people and economies when a disaster looms. Responses to disasters then become less emotional, less political, less headline-grabbing, and more business as usual and effective. The presentation will explore a range of solutions that have been implemented around the world to respond to disasters. It will give an overview of the evidence on what works and what doesn’t and it will examines the crucial issue of disaster risk financing and insurance. Building on the latest evidence from around the world, it will present a set of lessons and principles to guide future practice in this area with a particular focus on implications for India.

May 11, 2021 

Analyzing social security schemes – their role and reach during the COVID-19 pandemic

The talk presented and discussed the findings from three rounds of data collected by a collective of 60+ NGOs, called the Rapid Rural Community Response (RCRC). The data has been collected from 11 states. The three rounds were conducted in May-June’20, June-July’20 and Dec’20-Jan’21. To complement the data collected, we conducted consultation sessions with NGOs in some states to understand district level differences and find explanations for trends observed in the data. The objective of the study is to examine the reach and effectiveness of social security schemes, to inform better reach, simpler processes and responsive designing of government schemes. The effort brings together practitioners and researchers to inform policy-making.

May 25, 2021 

Using behavioral science to combat COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy – sharing learnings from the ongoing work in the United States and research in India

Vaccine hesitancy, according to the WHO, refers to a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccine services. With vaccines being a strong part of the arsenal in the global fight against COVID-19, it is the need of the hour to combat any form of hesitancy and encourage vaccine acceptance. Given the growing vaccine hesitancy worldwide, we, at ideas42, are applying behavioral science insights to support and optimize COVID-19 vaccine acceptance, follow-through, and service delivery. While this is an ongoing work and we are at the initial stages ourselves, given the wide interest and relevance of the subject, we would be sharing our research findings and early learnings. During this session, the speakers presented behavioral interventions that ideas42 has designed for implementation in the US and make a case for applying a behavioral approach to overcome the vaccine hesitancy challenge in India.

June 22, 2021 

Adoption of banking products by bottom of pyramid consumers: An empirical investigation 

Financial inclusion programs across the globe have focused on opening savings accounts. Several empirical studies have noted that the use of such accounts is low. What could be the reasons for this? An understanding of the mechanisms driving the usage of these accounts can be obtained by studying the adoption of the individual products available through them. Savings accounts offered under the financial inclusion programs make limited products available. For example, a Jan Dhan account has facilities for deposit, withdrawal, fund transfer, fixed deposit & ATM. It does not offer a cheque book, mobile banking or internet banking. We use growth models to empirically model the adoption of basic banking products like deposit, withdrawal, fund transfer etc. by bottom of pyramid consumers. We discuss the possible underlying mechanisms responsible for the different effects driving adoption.

July 06, 2021 

Understanding and Evaluating the CoWIN Platform

Utilising a digital platform such as CoWIN to administer a large-scale vaccination exercise garnered significant attention from naysayers and optimists alike. It is one of the latest example of providing essential public services to citizens via a digital platform. The platform has been designed as a “cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating Covid-19 vaccines”. It has multiple interfaces accessible by various users depending on their requirements. For example, while citizens may access the platform to book vaccination slots, administrators use an administrator-interface to monitor vaccination progress at the back end. Each interface or module performs a specific function in the vaccine delivery chain. Unlike other digital platform, CoWIN was deployed at a large-scale and hence gave us an opportunity to assess it as an ODE designed for digital welfare delivery. During the session, we examined the mechanics of the CoWIN platform and assess it based on the attributes we have developed for a good SP-ODE.

July 20, 2021 

COVID-19, Cyclones and Crises: Taking Stock of Social Protection Architecture in India

The talk drew on CMIE survey data and experiences from the World Bank’s ongoing partnerships with eight state governments and national government agencies to strengthen cash transfers, social-care and social protection responses to crises. The focus will be on comparing India’s social protection system with experiences from other relevant middle-income countries and identifying a few key areas for immediate emergency response in the context of the second wave of the pandemic in India and potential long-term reforms.

Aug 3, 2021 

Digital payments for remittances: sharing results from an impact evaluation in India 

Good Business Lab and the IDinsight financial inclusion team in 2019 conducted an RCT joint project aimed at promoting digital payment tools among female migrant workers in the garment industry in India. We studied the impacts of a workplace program providing training on digital payment applications on the use of such technology for remittances among migrant workers. We find that classroom training increases the use of digital payment applications by about 5 percentage points, and (more expensive) individualized training by 11 percentage points. However, when it comes to using digital payments for remittances, we find the statistically significant impact only for the individualized training with an increase of 7-8 percentage points. In this session, we presented the context, the intervention, and the results of the study, as well as highlighted the main technological and regulatory barriers to adoption.

Aug 17,2021

The talk drew attention to the country’s financial inclusion initiative through the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and looks into aspects related to fairness and effectiveness of the use of Basic Savings Bank Deposit Accounts (BSBDAs) opened under the Yojana. We see how on the one hand the country envisages a less-cash society while on the other hand the BSBDA holders had been disincentivised in their digital transactions for day-to-day payments. On a focused note, we showcase the gaps that exists in the regulatory and supervisory responsibility of RBI for the BSBDA users. While having embraced digital means for transacting, the BSBDA customers remained an unprotected lot since few banks exploited this marginalised section of the society through imposition of usurious service charges or creating other impediments like setting unreasonable limits for digital transactions in a month. Towards corrective measures, we give our recommendations. The talk is based on a recent report “Regulating Basic Savings Bank Deposit Accounts— Do we need to care for these marginalized depositors?”

Aug 31,2021

Delivering services to low income migrant households:  Learnings from Chalo Network (and the wider “migration ecosystem”) 

Since the 2020 migrant crisis, effectively delivering public goods and essential services to low income migrant households has been a key concern of governments and civil society across India. However, due to the largely informal, often deliberately clandestine, dynamic and multi-locational nature of migrant lives, little progress has been made on this front. The slow progress in the face of an unprecedented health and labour market crisis, betrays the institutional inexperience and the political economic barriers in engaging with migrant households in India. Addressing this is the centerpiece of the work at India Migration Now and its implementation arm, the Chalo Network, where through a combination of primary and policy design research, strategic partnerships and implementation pilots we have derived metrics for tracking migration along with design principles and approaches for delivering services to migrant households. In this talk, India Migration now has shared some of their key findings from their work delivering financial, identity and welfare services in major migration corridors and locate them in the wider ecosystem push for mainstreaming migration in India.

Sep 14,2021

Innovations in Health Financing: Dvara’s Health Savings Account (HSA) approach

Health financing in India devolves heavily to out-of-pocket expenditures with commercial insurance accounting for less than 10% population coverage. This combined with fragmentation & poor quality on the provider side have contributed to poor health outcomes at a population level and increasing financial vulnerability. Dvara’s new initiative, Health Savings Account, aims to address some key gaps in health financing among the low and middle income sections of the Indian population.  We are seeking to build innovative bundles that combine savings, insurance and primary health care. Successful efforts here have the potential to increase financial risk protection and positively impact health outcomes. In the talk, we reviewed the landscape for health financing in India, examine key gaps and share the hypotheses motivating the HSA experimentation.

Sep 28,2021

Tamil Nadu Agriculture Budget 2021 – Will it Solve Farm Woes? 

Tamil Nadu Agriculture Budget 2021-2022 – Perspectives from the ground

Talk title 1:

Tamil Nadu Agriculture Budget 2021 – Will it Solve Farm Woes? 

 Tamil Nadu has been known as one of the best states in the agricultural sector since the beginning of the Green Revolution, but its farmers are facing a variety of problems starting from low income to high level of indebtedness in recent times.  For the first time in the history of Tamil Nadu, the newly elected DMK government has recently presented an exclusive budget 2021-22 for the agricultural sector, which is a welcome step towards achieving better growth in the farm sector in the future.  However, there is a need to look at whether the budget has addressed the core issues of the farm sector.  Specifically, we need to see whether the programmes announced in the budget in any way help to reduce the fallow land and increase the cropped area, which are serious issues facing Tamil Nadu’s agricultural sector today. Are the long-term visions mentioned in the budget achievable?  Can agri-budget be presented without including the irrigation sector?  Will the increase in MSP for paddy solve the long-time woes of paddy farmers? Can the income of farmers be increased through the programmes announced in the budget?  What should be done to stimulate the growth of agriculture?  I will be covering all these issues in my presentation.

Talk title 2: Tamil Nadu Agriculture Budget 2021-2022 – Perspectives from the ground Dr. Tannirkulam presented a qualitative discussion on some thrust areas of the budget based on my interaction with farmers, village level agriculture-service providers and traders. There is a push for increased collectivization of farmers and an increase in the share of organic farming in the State. He shared some concerns and opportunities around this highlighted by a dry-land farmers’ group.

Oct 12,2021

Financial Inclusion and Economic Growth in India Amid Demonetization

Does financial inclusion through opening of bank accounts catalyze economic activity? We use the case study of a large-scale financial inclusion programme in India called Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) to investigate this question. Firstly, we establish that financial inclusion and economic activity share a long-term link. The variables move together and are in a long-run equilibrium relationship. Secondly, we find that the relationship between financial inclusion and economic activity experiences structural breaks clustered around the month in which demonetization of Indian currency was announced. Further, our analysis of causality directions shows that in the period before demonetization, an increase in economic activity causes an increase in the use of banking. Post-demonetization, the direction of the causal relationship between economic activity and banking reverses. An increase in banking transactions now causes a positive impact on economic growth. We discussed the likely channels through which causality operates and the possible reasons for reversal in the causality direction.

Nov 09,2021

The business correspondent (BC)–agent banking model in India has proven to be a low-cost, innovative solution to address financial inclusion in rural India. We use a gender and technology lens to explore the role of female banking agents in facilitating access to social security transfers using fingerprint-based biometric authentication solutions during the nationwide pandemic related lockdown in India between March 2020 and July 2020. During the lockdown period, banking agents supported access to government pandemic related cash transfers with dramatic increases in the number of transactions made during this period. Using data from multiple small samples of banking agents, we highlight the on-the-ground challenges observed in the provision of basic banking services to access cash transfers during the pandemic. In the talk, we discussed the case for strengthening the agent banking ecosystem, improving the delivery architecture for direct benefit transfers (DBTs), encouraging competition between banking service providers, and providing demand-based financial products and services to expand gender-focused financial inclusion further.

Nov 23,2021

The KarmaLife Journey: Building New Paradigms in Small Ticket Finance for Non Salaried Workers

85% of India’s workforce is non salaried with roughly 100M linked to non-farm organised sectors. These primarily comprise steady, hand-to-mouth earners and spenders, annually churning ~$300B in transaction value. The younger gig segments are also digital early adopters that use digital apps for content, commerce and payments. Yet these workers have little access to financial services simply because traditional financial institutions are unable to assess the real time risk and deliver viable finance in required formats. A combination of workflow digitisation trends, increased smartphone penetration, and public digital infrastructure creates the perfect storm for more appropriate, cash-flow based finance. The talk shared highlights from proprietary research conducted on financial needs & habits of select gig worker segments. It also discussed KarmaLife’s data-driven, credit-first approach to solving this problem, along with some early user and product level insights along the journey. More information on KarmaLife’s solution is available on its website and via these B2B and B2C explainer videos.

Dec 07,2021

Typically, when we set out to measure the impact of a loan on someone’s life, we tend to look at what happens after they take the loan— for instance, whether their income increases, whether they are able to spend more on education, or whether they acquire more assets. However, there are a couple of limitations to this approach:

  • Outcomes data taken following a loan tends to be a snapshot of a certain point in time, and is usually collected at a time pre-determined by the service provider, rather than at a time that makes sense for the borrower in terms of when they expect to see results from the loan

  • Changes in income and increased spending on education can be influenced by many different factors in a person’s life, not just their access to finance. For instance, we see in financial diary research that unexpected events happen more often than we might think, such as accidents, sudden medical needs, new opportunities, and other events which may disrupt the original plans a borrower had for their loan

While outcomes data is useful, it cannot give us the full picture of the utility provided by a loan or other financial service. What if, in addition to outcomes data, we considered the impact of a financial service from a cash flow perspective? In other words, what if we could see how loans or savings fit with clients’ real cash flows and affect their day-to-day money management? Using data from Stuart Rutherford’s Hrishipara Daily Diaries project, we would like to introduce a new impact measure which looks at how financial services either reduce or add to the volatility of a person’s cash flows. Our working assumption is that services which increase cash flow volatility generally make money harder to manage, and vice versa. We call this measure of impact on volatility the Fit Factor. Link to paper

Jan 11,2022

The All-India Debt and Investment Survey (AIDIS) conducted by the National Statistical Office is a nationally representative survey of Indian households that collects information about the assets and liabilities of households. The survey is unique in that in provides detailed information about the volume and value of financial and physical assets households own as well as the incidence and source of indebtedness among households. Such an information is useful as it allows us to construct the balance sheet of households, thereby helping us understand the level of interaction households have with the formal financial system. Studying household’s financial behaviour is crucial in assessing the state of access to and use of formal financial services and the progress Indian households have made in their financial inclusion journey. In this talk, we presented key insights from AIDIS, 2019, and paint a picture of the current landscape of Indian household finance.

Jan 25,2022

What to Think about Financial Health: Findings from the UNSGSA Financial Health Working Group

The effort to become financially healthy occupies a central place in the life struggles of millions of families. But the concept of financial health is only now beginning to penetrate the thinking of participants in the global financial inclusion sector. This talk will present the findings of the UNSGSA Financial Health Working Group, convened in 2021 by H.M Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, in her capacity as the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Advocate on Financial Inclusion for Development. The group of experts from business, government and non-profits assessed the level of interest in and knowledge about financial health across the sector and proposed an agenda for making financial health more central to the decision making of policy makers and financial service providers. This talk  summarized the group’s findings on the implications of financial health for policy and the private sector, with a special attention to measuring financial health.

Feb 08,2022

The Experiences of the MFI Sector: How microfinance institutions from India and the world have negotiated the COVID-19 challenge.

The microfinance sector has never faced a challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, customer repayment rates touched zero, while providers had to service their own obligations. The period was marked by an acceleration towards digitization, rationalizing human resources, product innovations, and regulatory and fiscal uncertainties. To understand the challenges faced by MFI leaders, and the choices they evaluated and the decisions they made, we conducted long-term “case-style” periodic interviews with CEOs of MFIs, as a part of the Sentinel Project, housed at the Financial Access Initiative. In this presentation, we discussed the findings from India, and a few other select jurisdictions.

 

Feb 22,2022

The Evolving Nature and Scale of Consumer Risks in Digital Finance: Findings from CGAP’s Global Research

Digital financial services (DFS) have been a critical driver of financial inclusion in emerging and developing countries. But in recent years, the emergence of innovative DFS solutions has introduced risks and, in some cases, exacerbated pre-existent risks for vulnerable DFS users, which if not addressed may reverse the progress made in advancing financial inclusion. This talk presented CGAP’s findings on the evolution of the nature and scale of DFS consumer risks. CGAP’s global research reviewed literature and gathered insights from over 70 experts. Based on the assessment of DFS consumer risks in recent years, CGAP has developed a consumer risk typology to simplify the analysis of consumer risks in digital finance. This talk summarized the global research findings and help stakeholders understand the extent of consumer risks in digital finance. It also briefly highlighted CGAP’s solutions, such as the market monitoring toolkit, elevating the collective consumer voice, and the customer outcomes approach to consumer protection that can help to mitigate the risks.

 

Mar 08,2022

Market & regulatory monitoring of overindebtedness

Preventing overindebtedness is one of the most difficult aspects of client protection. The reasons are many: preventing it often requires saying no to a client – whether no to the loan amount she’s requesting or no to any loan at all; it means going against the logic of volume – no loan officer or branch manager will ever receive a bonus for lending less; it means going against the intrinsic forces of competition, ceding a client to a more aggressive or less scrupulous competitor; it means going against the often prevailing impulse of borrowers to emphasize the needs of the present and discount the risks of the future; but most importantly, it means setting rules and monitoring for something that is inherently undefined and practically impossible to measure. And where doing this is hard enough at the level of an institution, preventing overindebtedness at the level of an entire market may seem a bridge altogether too far. Yet it can be achieved, and perhaps with less difficulty than one might presume. Building on the work of the MIMOSA project and the market-wide efforts to prevent overindebtedness in Cambodia and elsewhere, this talk explored what financial inclusion actors, including regulators, can do to minimize the risks of overindebtedness and ensure long-term sustainability of low-income credit markets.

 

Mar 22,2022

A rapid expansion in the Indian financial sector has necessitated a growing focus on improving customer service which also includes the delivery of a robust Grievance Redressal Mechanism (GRM). A GRM is a formal system through which complaints are resolved in a time-bound manner, thus improving public service delivery in the financial system. This paper assesses the GRM policy content that is available on the website of 21 financial service providers in India. The firms include the top three firms by market share in each sector – banking, insurance, pensions, payments, mutual funds, and brokerages. Financial firms differ in their performance across different metrics, highlighting areas for improvement with grievance redress processes with financial services providers (FSP).  

Apr 05,2022

Insights from CGAP’s Market Monitoring Toolkit to advance Financial Consumer Protection

Digital financial services are not only expanding financial inclusion to underserved and low-income consumers, but also exposing them to new and heightened risks.  Market monitoring can help financial and consumer protection authorities identify, understand, and track consumer risks, behaviors, and outcomes, and act promptly. This talk presented CGAP’s market monitoring toolkit, which aims to provide authorities with practical guidance for selecting and implementing individual market monitoring tools, illustrative country cases methods to start incorporating market monitoring as part of regular supervisory activities. We summarized the main components of the toolkit, and highlight how supervisors and other stakeholders can contribute to the implementation of effective market monitoring, in the context of a customer-centric and outcomes-based approach to consumer protection.  

Apr 19,2022

Covid-19 and Bengaluru’s Urban Poor- Key Findings from the Azim Premji University Bengaluru Covid Impact Survey

Azim Premji University, in collaboration with nine Civil Society Organizations, conducted a survey of 3,000 households in 92 low-income settlements across 33 wards of Bengaluru. The survey was done to estimate the continuing impact of Covid-19 induced lockdowns and economic disruptions on employment and livelihoods. The survey also captured information on access to government support as well as coping mechanisms. The findings show that livelihood impacts of the pandemic have persisted far beyond the lockdowns. The long period of depressed earnings, lower food intake and debt/sale of assets will hamper the ability of households to recover from the pandemic unless more support is provided. Relief measures have had a mixed record of reaching the urban poor.  

May 17,2022

Building Gender Responsive Digital Information Systems – A case study of digitizing SHGs

Starting December 2020, IT for Change has been working on a  project that digitizes the records of SHGs (self-help-groups)  which serve as both, financial intermediaries for micro credit access and social support structures. The project involved making a series of recommendations highlighting the different ways in which information systems could be made more gender-responsive. The recommendations spanned the entire data lifecycle, focusing on potential risks in techno-design and institutional choices and ways in which the system may be leveraged to further women’s empowerment. This presentation provided a summary of this study, highlighting the importance of thinking “gender by design”.

 

May 31,2022

The case for targeted initiatives to bridge financial inclusion gap for women has been made out quite copiously in the literature. However, limited number of such initiatives exist in practice. From July 2017 to December 2019, CUTS International implemented immersive financial capacity building initiatives targeting women in Bhilwara and Chittorgarh districts of Rajasthan. The initiative covered all the 673 village councils and consequently 23 blocks of these districts. Over a period of 30 months, 140 cluster trainings, and 572 periodical meetings were organised, with the help from 180 primarily-women community based facilitators, resulting  in 9,395 direct beneficiaries. A lot of lessons emerged from approach, experience, challenges, and findings of the initiative, have been discussed in the presentation.     

 

June 14,2022

Social Health Protection in India: Challenges and Possibilities

India has witnessed rapid increase in the legal social health protection (SHP) coverage of its population over the last decade. Two of the largest public institutions responsible for this are the ESIC and the PM-JAY. Together, these two institutions cover more than 50 percent of India’s population. While historically distinct in their organization and approach, they face common challenges – of scaling up service delivery, sustaining federal cooperation, influencing health-seeking behaviour among the insured population, aggregating existing demand and cumulatively, demonstrating contribution to India’s Universal Health Coverage agenda. The speaker will discuss some of the challenges and possibilities of this SHP landscape, based on his recent work.  

June 28,2022

Last Among Equals: Making Panchayats Responsive to Citizens

This talk, drawing from Dr. Sharan’s book Last Among Equals: Power, Caste and Politics in Bihar’s Villages, dealt with how power concentrated in entrenched elites in village societies can be distributed better to those on the margins. He also argued that change —  ephemeral, incremental or transformational — is possible, through government policy and collective action. 

 

July 12,2022

The talk focused on certain legal and policy reforms that may be made in some of the existing and proposed Indian laws, to make finance more inclusive for women enterprises, and for women in general. The reforms relate to women enterprises and creating more avenues for credit flow to them, expanding the reach of banking services to women and suggestions to add a gender lens to the financial services being offered by various financial service providers.  

July 26,2022

The promise of NLP and social media to monitor consumer complaints

The digital lending app market has grown substantially in the past several years and, especially over COVID, so have concerns about consumer risk for those who use these apps.   Digital finance apps have certain challenges in terms of market monitoring, but also significant advantages, particularly in the frequency and amount of complaint data that is generated online, such as through Google Play Reviews and Twitter.   The challenge has been to develop the techniques to use all this rich data to make sense of the nature and patterns of the complaints over time.  Natural Language Processing is a key tool to help us do that.  In this talk from Decodis, a tech-led research firm specializing in NLP and sociolinguistics, shared experiences in developing NLP tools to understand the digital lending app market over the past two years.

 

Aug 9,2022

Digital Identities and adverse outcomes: When Inclusion Excludes and Functions Creep

Digital identity systems are being widely adopted in Africa and Asia as a response to corruption, inefficient service delivery, high costs of doing business, and security threats. The expectation is that by establishing the identities of citizens and their entitlements and responsibilities, these systems will reduce the information asymmetries that allow rules to be violated. However, this assumes that developing countries have a rule of law that ensures that evidence on violations will lead to enforcement regardless of the identity and power of the violator. Even high income countries are no longer prioritising all-encompassing digital identities given the complexities involved. It is therefore important for policymakers and donors to consider an analysis of asymmetric power alongside asymmetric information analysis to understand the causes of, and possible policy responses to, rule violations  The theory and evidence suggest that a more robust analysis, which recognises the interdependence of asymmetric information and power, can assist in the design of country-specific, welfare-enhancing digital strategies.

 

Sakina Dhorajiwala

Sakina Dhorajiwala holds a Master’s in Public Policy and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Mumbai, India. Currently she is working with Liberation Technology (LibTech India) – a group of researchers, activists, and engineers that works on transparency and accountability of various government to citizen programmes in several parts of rural India. She has worked on matters concerning the right to food and nutrition and the right to work, among others. In particular she has been interested in rural citizen experience in times of technology mediated policy initiatives. Prior to this, Sakina was a Fellow with Teach for India (TFI) where she served as full-time teacher to children in two under-resourced schools for two years in Hyderabad. She is also the co-founder of WeSpeakOut, a group of Muslim women who have come together to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in their community.

Rajendran Narayanan

Rajendran Narayanan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Arts and Sciences, Azim Premji University, Bangalore. After completing his Ph.D in statistics from Cornell University, he has held academic positions at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, Cornell University, Ithaca and Ashoka University, Sonepat. He has been with LibTech India, since its inception in 2011. LibTech India, is an organisation that works on Research for Action pertaining to transparency & accountability of government programmes like NREGA, NFSA and Pensions. LibTech India is also keen on building on its learnings in NREGA for an accountability framework for other DBT programmes. Rajendran is also associated with various national campaigns such as the Right to Food, Right to Work campaigns and is interested in the politics of data and in understanding the implications of technocracy on people’s rights and participatory democracy.

Natalia Espinosa Tokuhama

Natalia Espinosa Tokuhama works as an online education liaison and researcher for Tufts University. This includes her earlier work for the Journey’s Project of Henry J. Leir Institute as the local member of the research process in Quito, Ecuador. Prior to receiving her Master’s degree in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts, she worked in a local city government in Quito, Ecuador where she managed projects in productive development, population and city resiliency, and the integration of informal economies. Natalia completed her undergraduate studies at New York University as a Scholar of Excellency – Becaria de Excelencia – sponsored by Ecuador’s National Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, leading her to her work for Quito’s public sector where she developed her passion for liaison and relationship building. She seeks to foment dialogue and information sharing between cities, international organizations, the private sector, universities and local governments and to do so in various disciplines of public service. As an interlocutor, Natalia continues to seek to bridge communication and information sharing between experts in the fields of economics, public policy, advocacy and law in order to produce holistic and successful development policies.

Kim Wilson

Kim Wilson is Senior Lecturer and Senior Fellow at the Fletcher School of Tufts University. Prior to joining Fletcher, she worked in finance and then spent 15 years working in Financial Inclusion for organizations like Catholic Relief Services, the United Nations Development program and the World Bank. She spent from 2001-2005 working in India, based in Kolkata. She had the opportunity to visit 19 Indian states and learn and support the self-help groups formed by NGOs and NABARD. She returned to the US to study and teach about financial inclusion. Since 2016 she has led a series of studies on the financial journeys of transcontinental migrants and refugees. A collection of reports, essays and financial biographies are available on the Journeys Project portal (http://sites.tufts.edu/journeysproject/). The Journeys Project findings will appear in a appear in a chapter for the book, Global Human Smuggling (Johns Hopkins Press, 2022) and in The Handbook on Migration (Elgar Press). Her teaching now focuses on qualitative research methods.

Sharon Buteau

Sharon is passionate about finding effective solutions to promote enterprise growth and development, and realising the untapped potential of micro and small businesses. As Executive Director of LEAD, Sharon’s devotes her time to understand how co-creation, collaborative processes, as well using the power of data from the ground up can improve socio-economic outcomes for individuals, households and enterprises Sharon has in-depth knowledge in “right fit research methods” and significant experience in the domain of financial capabilities and well-being, and small business and entrepreneurship development. Prior to joining LEAD, Sharon was an economist with Analysis Group in Montreal Canada. She holds an Msc in Economics from the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, as well as an M.A. in Social Research Methods from the London School of Economics.

Aarushi Gupta

Aarushi is a Research Associate with the Social Protection Initiative at Dvara Research. Her focus area is last-mile delivery of social protection and is currently studying exclusion and grievance redressal in welfare through various field projects. She is currently leading the team’s work on exclusion and is conducting state-wide surveys in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, and Chhattisgarh, involving multiple stakeholders from regional governments. Previously, she has worked as an Associate Consultant at Ernst & Young in their Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services team. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from National Law School of India University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s (H) degree in Economics from Christ University, Bangalore.

Aishwarya Narayan

Aishwarya is passionate about building welfare systems which are equitably accessible by all. She is presently a Research Associate at the Social Protection Initiative at Dvara Research. Her recent work has involved expiring public private partnerships in public private partnerships in welfare delivery. She has also been looking into the intersection of social protection and digital systems. Aishwarya holds a Master of Applied Economics from the National University of Singapore. Her Master’s coursework involved extensive study of South-East Asian models of growth and development, and program evaluation methods. Previously she has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Asia Competitiveness Institute at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore.

Sarayu Natarajan

Sarayu has a background in management consulting (McKinsey and Company), venture investing (Elevar Equity), program development and management (Gray Matters Capital), and academic research. She has a PhD in Political Science from King’s College London, a Master’s in Public Policy from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University, and a arts and law degree from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore (NLSIU).

Lakshmee Sharma

Lakshmee Sharma has worked in the Indian development practice and policy space with a focus on climate change and agrarian livelihoods, labour migration, and land and urban informal housing. She has previously worked with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and Tata Centre for Development at UChicago. She served as an AIF Clinton Fellow (2016-17) with Gene Campaign, Uttarakhand. She holds a BA (Triple Major) in Psychology, Sociology, and English from Christ University and an MSc in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford

Samarth Gupta

Samarth Gupta is an Associate Fellow, NCAER. In this role, he has contributed in several key economic policy research studies. These include taxation policies for alcohol in India for WHO, business expectations survey, and investment prioritization framework for FCDO, Government of UK etc. He obtained his PhD in Economics from Boston University in 2018. His research interest include development economics and industrial organization. Particularly, he has explored how redistributive demands in developing economies affect firm performance.

Sandhya Garg

Sandhya Garg is Sir Ratan Tata Fellow at Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi. Prior to joining IEG, she was an Associate Fellow, NCAER where she undertook research in evaluation of Direct Benefit Transfer in key central and central sponsored schemes. She obtained her PhD in Economics from IGIDR in 2018. She is interested in public finance and development economics. In her work, she has explored the distribution of public goods in Indian villages.

Ritesh Rautela

Ritesh Rautela is a Senior Manager in MSC’s Government and Social Impact (GSI) Practice Group under the Digital Financial Services domain. He has over 11 years of experience in the field of management consulting, G2P programs and payment systems, banking, branchless banking, digital financial services, social protection, agriculture, financial inclusion, and financial literacy.

Kritika Shukla

Kritika Shukla is a Manager in MSC’s Government and Social Impact (GSI) Practice Group under Digital Financial Services domain. She is a development sector consultant with more than five years’ experience of working with multi-lateral and bi-lateral donor agencies, financial institutions in G2P programs and payment systems, financial inclusion, digital financial services, social protection, and agriculture.

Dr. Daniel Clarke

Daniel leads the Centre for Disaster Protection’s work with national governments and international organisations to improve how the world prepares and pays for disasters. He joined the Centre in 2017 as Chief Economist and became Director in 2019. His work has had a major influence on policy and practice at a global, country and organisational level, and his book, Dull Disasters? How Planning Ahead Will Make A Difference, published in 2016, is a seminal work on disaster risk financing. He was also a lead author of the Centre report, The Future of Crisis Financing: A Call to Action, which sets out a new vision and agenda for reform of the international crisis financing system. He has worked with more than 40 developing country governments, in close collaboration with bilateral and multilateral development institutions and the private sector, to develop improved risk finance schemes, including a public-private partnership to ensure that more than 400,000 farmers in Kenya now have secure and predictable insurance to protect their livelihoods. He has been an actuary at the Government Actuary’s Department, where he advised the UK government on fiscal risk management. Before this he was a Senior Financial Sector Specialist at the World Bank and a Lecturer in Actuarial Science at the University of Oxford. He has a D.Phil. in Economics from the University of Oxford.

Advaita R

Advaita Rajendra is a Ph.D. student at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in the Public Systems Group. She is currently working on policy issues in waste, waste-work and secondary education. Her research interests lie at the intersection of social hierarchies, environment and livelihoods.

Karan Singhal

Karan Singhal is currently working as a researcher at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad on topics in urban governance, education and early childhood, as part of an IIMA and UNICEF partnership.

Ankur Sarin

Ankur Sarin is a faculty in the Public Systems Group at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. His works include investigations of the effects of social and economic inequality on welfare outcomes of children and understanding the influence of technology on the social and economic life of the marginalised.

Preeti Anand

Preeti leads the South Asia projects of ideas42 and over the last four and a half years here, she has worked on a wide range of projects in Financial Inclusion, Health, Governance, WASH, Education and Livelihoods across South Asia and Africa. She comes from a management consulting background and before ideas42, she was a part of Grameen Foundation India’s project team.

Lee-Sien Kao

Lee-Sien Kao is a Senior Associate at ideas42, where she uses behavioral science to advance public health in the United States. In particular, she leads the US health team’s vaccine portfolio, which includes work on routine vaccines as well as the COVID-19 vaccine. Before joining the health team, she worked with the city of Chicago on behavioral science initiatives within city government agencies.

Susanti Vijaykumar

Susanti is a Projects Analyst based in India, where she works on applying the behavioral design approach across ideas42’s projects in governance, agriculture and financial inclusion across South Asia. Prior to joining ideas42, Susanti trained as a Materials Science Engineer before pursuing Liberal Arts and switching to the world of policy and behavioral science.

Vinay Kumar Singh

Vinay is a management consultant and a researcher with interest in policies related to financial inclusion and their impact. He has multi-business experience in retail banking, consumer lending and insurance. As a part of his advocacy efforts, he frequently contributes to OpEds in leading financial dailies on these topics. Vinay studied chemical engineering at IIT Kanpur, honed his management skills at IIM Calcutta and has recently finished his doctorate in Economics from MDI Gurgaon.

Lakshay Narang

Lakshay is a Research Associate with the Future of Finance Initiative. He completed his Master’s in Public Policy from the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. His study on the Effects of Mobile-Based Financial Services on Migrant Households’ Remittances and Savings – A Case Study of Migrant Workers in Dundahera was published by Dvara Research Foundation, as part of its Working Paper Series. Prior to this, Lakshay earned his Post-Graduate Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai and his Bachelor’s in Economics from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University.

Shrayana Bhattacharya

Ms. Shrayana Bhattacharya is a Senior Economist in the World Bank’s Social Protection and Jobs Practice for South Asia. In her present role, she leads the Bank’s development policy dialogue and projects with Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India and three state governments (Odisha, West Bengal and Kerala) on social protection measures following COVID-19. She also leads a series of state level engagements to strengthen crisis-responsive safety nets, Direct Benefit Transfers and social protection delivery through multiple projects, and leads a World Bank team tracking social protection impacts of the pandemic with CMIE. She completed her post-graduation in public administration and economics from Harvard University.

Raphaelle Aulagnon

Raphaelle was the research associate at Good Business Lab responsible for the digital payments for remittances RCT project conducted in 2019 in Bangalore. She later worked on social mobility and inequality measurement projects in Europe. She graduated with an MA in Development Economics at Yale University (US) and is currently a first-year PhD candidate at Bocconi University (Italy).

Smit Gade

Smit Gade is Senior Manager, Data and Research at Good Business Lab (GBL). He currently works on research projects related to female labour force participation, skilling, financial inclusion and labour productivity. Prior to GBL, he worked at JPAL and holds an M.Phil. Economics from Oxford University.

Dr. Ashish Das

Dr. Ashish Das is a Professor of Statistics at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. Other than his research and teaching roles in the field of theoretical statistics internationally, his interest is in banking and payment systems in India. He has brought out several reports that led to regulatory interventions in banking and payment systems. He has facilitated in taking forward projects of DFS and NPCI. Currently, he is in the board of Airtel Payments Bank.

Varun Aggrawal

Varun is the  Founder and Lead at India Migration Now (IMN). Along with strategy and fundraising, his core research and operational focus at IMN  is on migration data,  designing service delivery mechanisms and the political economy of migration. Previously he has worked on projects around digital financial inclusion, informational privacy, nutrition, industrial and competition policy. Varun has a BA in Maths from the University of Washington in Seattle and a MSc in Economics from Maastricht University.

Bindu Ananth

Bindu is the co-founder and Chair of Dvara Holdings. She was Board Chair of Northern Arc Capital from 2009 – 2018. She is currently leading the Dvara Health Savings Account (HSA) initiative. Bindu has co-edited “Financial Engineering for Low-Income Households”, a book published by SAGE. She was a member of three RBI Committees: financial inclusion, SME finance and housing securitisation. She currently serves on TN’s MSME Advisory Committee and is a Fellow of the Lancet Commission on Re-imagining India’s Health System. She has Masters Degrees from the Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) and Harvard University’s John. F. Kennedy School of Government.

Bhuvana Balaji

Bhuvana leads user experience and research at Dvara HSA. She has worked in the space of gender, sexual and reproductive health, and environmental justice, and has a Master’s in Development from Azim Premji University, Bangalore.

Pramiti Lonkar

Pramiti is engaged with the research for the Health Savings Account (HSA) initiative, designing tools for focus group discussions and interviews. She is pursuing her Masters in Public Policy at National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. Prior to this, she completed her Masters in Convergent Journalism from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She has worked as a policy reporter, covering SMEs and the infrastructure sector. Her key areas of interest include public finance, credit and insurance.

Dr. A. Narayanamoorthy

Dr. A. Narayanamoorthy [former Full-Time Member (Official), Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi] is currently working as Senior Professor and Head, Department of Economics and Rural Development, Alagappa University, Tamil Nadu, India.  Earlier, he worked with the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, India for about 14 years [1994-2008] and with the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Madras for about one and a half years [1993-1994].  He has been working in the area of agricultural and rural economics over the last 30 years;   specialised in the area of irrigation including micro-irrigation and farm economics. Dr. Narayanamoorthy has published 11 books (including books from, Oxford University Press, Routledge and Springer), three mimeographs and over 200 research papers in international and national journals.  He has been writing regularly in India’s leading dailies.  Dr. Narayanamoorthy has completed several research projects sponsored by the national and international agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture (Government of India), Planning Commission (Government of India), the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD, India), Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR, New Delhi), International Water Management Institute (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).  He has been acting as a referee for various international and national journals, research reports of different Institutes and examiner for Ph.D., Thesis of different Universities. He has also been teaching post-graduate level courses in Economics since 1994.

Dr. Narayanamoorthy is a recipient of the prestigious Professor Ramesh Chandra Agrawal Award of excellence for the outstanding contribution in the field of agricultural economics for the year 2009 from the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, Mumbai. NABARD has conferred to him the coveted NABARD Chair Professor position (2011-16), which is one among the five Chairs awarded at the National level.  The Alagappa University, Tamil Nadu has given him the Professor of Excellence Award during 2018.  Recently, he received ISAE Fellow 2019 award which is instituted by the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, Mumbai.

Dr. Narayanamoorthy earned vast administrative experience while working in key positions (Member of the Syndicate, Member of the Planning Board, Member of the Finance Committee and Dean, Faculty of Arts) in Alagappa University, Tamil Nadu and in Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune (Member, Board of Management).

Dr. Narayanamoorthy has also worked as Member of different policy level Committees constituted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, New Delhi; the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, New Delhi and the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad.  Dr. Narayanamoorthy’s current h-index is 26 which is a rare distinction in economics and social sciences. Recently, he has also successfully completed the Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP) sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, at the Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK. 

Dr. Ajay Kumar Tannirkulam

Ajay Kumar Tannirkulam did his PhD in Astronomy & Astrophysics from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He returned to India in 2008 and joined the Analytics unit at the Center for Microfinance – Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) as head. He was also the Interim Executive Director of the center between 2011 and 2013. His deep interest in agriculture and livelihoods of small and marginal farmers made him spend time in the field to understand issues faced by farmers. Along with Jayaram, Ajay co-founded the Magasool in 2012 and has been working full time on developing quality programs for small and marginal farmers.

Vinay Kumar Singh

Vinay is a management consultant and a researcher with interest in policies related to financial inclusion and their impact.  He has multi-business experience in retail banking, consumer lending and insurance. As a part of his advocacy efforts, he frequently contributes to OpEds in leading financial dailies on these topics. Vinay studied chemical engineering at IIT Kanpur, honed his management skills at IIM Calcutta and has recently finished his doctorate in Economics from MDI Gurgaon.

Amit Arora

Amit is a Development Finance Specialist working with the World Bank Group as a senior advisor since 2016. Having started his career with ICICI Bank in 1996, Amit has worked with multiple commercial banks across different roles before moving to development finance sector in 2008. He has worked extensively in the agent banking business in India with different organizations and is currently works on Agri & Micro Enterprise Financing components of different WBG projects with focus on ‘gender finance’.

Alreena Renita Pinto

Alreena is a Rural Development Specialist with the World Bank’s Agriculture and Food Global Practice. She specializes in integrating data, research and evidence into meaningful and impact-oriented policy advice and decision-making. At the World Bank, she leads several analytical activities and provides data-driven inputs to on-going policy dialogues. She also supports the team on improving last-mile digital transformation through community data collection systems, technology solutions, and the streamlining of monitoring and information systems.

Rohit Rathi

Rohit Rathi (CEO): 3X founder. Built NotionInk, Smartron and now KarmaLife; IIT Kharagpur Alumni; Technology evangelist; Designed country’s first tablet PC: NotionInk-adam & tronX AI platform; 13+ Years. 

Badal Malick

Badal Malick is the CBO & Cofounder of Karmalife. Led Catalyst, a financial inclusion innovation platform. Built country’s first online-to-offline ecommerce platform at Snapdeal. Ex Intuit, McKinsey, World Bank. A Yale University alumnus and Chevening Fellow.  

Yoshinari Noguchi

Yoshi joined Gojo and currently is leading the company’s analytics projects. Having graduated from Tokyo University and worked for Dai-ichi Life Insurance for 2 years, he spent 10 years as a quantitative analyst at Goldman Sachs Asset Management where he used to work for Global Alpha, a hedge fund of the investment bank. At Goldman Sachs, Yoshi managed quantitative global tactical asset allocation of the fund and developed various quantitative investment management products and tools. After leaving Goldman Sachs, he founded his own company and used to run a music studio business while providing consulting services for financial institutions. 

Haruna Tanaka

Haruna is a professional with expertise in strategy, business development and incubation. She works on corporate governance, social performance management and any other projects that are needed to further enhance Gojo’s work. Prior to Gojo, she worked for Rakuten, a Japanese internet services company for 10 years. As a member of the CEO’s office, she worked on special projects and other items on the CEO’s agenda, including acquisition of overseas companies, enrollment of Englishnization at Rakuten, strategy development of Rakuten Mobile and more. Amongst other things, she also led Rakuten’s ebook business as business manager in Japan and Taiwan, Asian business development, and innovation activities, including internal and external accelerator programs. Before Rakuten, she was a strategy consultant at Booz and Company. She graduated from Tokyo University majoring in Economics

Rakshith Ponnathpur

Rakshith is a Research Associate with the Household Finance Research Initiative. He has completed his Master’s degree in Public Policy from National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. For his dissertation, he worked on proposing a new framework for intra-state fiscal devolutions for the redressal of regional imbalance in Karnataka. Previously, he has worked as a Trainee Decision Scientist at the big-data business analytics firm, Mu Sigma Business Solutions. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from R V College of Engineering, Bengaluru. While his interest areas in the policy space include Economics and Public Finance, he is passionate about working at the intersection of data analytics and policy, and most of his internships during grad school and current research work lie here.

Misha Sharma

Misha leads the Household Finance Practice at Dvara Research. In this role she focuses on identifying key research gaps in the field of Household Finance and building evidence to inform market practices and design of financial sector policy.  Misha specialises in policy research and advocacy in the domain of financial inclusion. She has several years of experience working with the financial inclusion vertical at IFMR LEAD where she managed two large scale trials on the impact of access to formal financial services on low-income households in rural Tamil Nadu. While with IFMR LEAD, she was awarded the CFI Accion Fellowship to research on the role of agent network in transitioning low-income households to digital financial platforms. Prior to Dvara Research, she worked as a Senior Research Manager with the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, studying the state of the Indian philanthropy sector. Misha has written several research papers and columns, commenting on the state of inclusive finance in India. Misha holds a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Edinburgh and a Bachelors Degree in Economics from Stella Maris College, Chennai.

Elisabeth Rhyne

Elisabeth Rhyne is an independent consultant working on financial inclusion and financial health. She facilitated the UNSGSA Financial Health Working Group. She is the founder and former managing director of the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, a research center dedicated to expanding access to financial services to low income people. She co-founded the Smart Campaign, a global client protection campaign. Elisabeth was a senior vice president at Accion, opening Accion’s presence in both Asia and Africa. She led the Office of Microenterprise Development at USAID. She has published numerous books and articles on microfinance and financial inclusion. Ms. Rhyne holds a master’s and Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

Nancy Widjaja

Nancy Widjaja is a Policy Advisor at the Office of UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. Nancy leads the Office’s work on private sector engagements, with a focus on the topics of financial health and access to finance for micro and small businesses. Prior to joining the UNSGSA team, Nancy led strategic projects and advocacy initiatives at Accion Venture Lab, the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and the Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA). Nancy began her career as a strategy consultant with The Boston Consulting Group, serving private and public sector clients across South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Nancy is an Indonesian national and holds a BA in Economics from University of Indonesia and an MPA in Development Practice from Columbia University.

Rakshith Ponnathpur

Rakshith is a Research Associate with the Household Finance Research Initiative. He has completed his Master’s degree in Public Policy from the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. For his dissertation, he worked on proposing a new framework for intra-state fiscal devolutions for the redressal of regional imbalance in Karnataka. Previously, he has worked as a Trainee Decision Scientist at the big-data business analytics firm, Mu Sigma Business Solutions. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from R V College of Engineering, Bengaluru. While his interest areas in the policy space include Economics and Public Finance, he is passionate about working at the intersection of data analytics and policy, and most of his internships during grad school and current research work lie here.

Dwijaraj Bhattacharya

Dwijaraj is Research Manager at the Financial Systems Design Initiative and oversees all of its work. His research focuses on households’ access to credit and impediments therein. His research interests include the legislative and regulatory frameworks governing providers, regulators and other entities in the financial sector. His work also focuses on personal insolvency and bankruptcy. Dwijaraj has written a book chapter and several research papers and columns on these subjects. Dwijaraj holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s degree from Delhi University. He has previously worked in various capacities across several corporate entities, international non-profits, and NGOs, and has advised several government bodies in those roles.

Majorie Chalwe-Mulenga

Majorie Chalwe-Mulenga is a Financial Sector Analyst and works with CGAP’s Customer Value Team. She has led research on consumer risks in digital finance and supports CGAP’s work on consumer protection, focussing on protecting vulnerable consumers. She also assists CGAP’s team working in Sub-Saharan Africa. Before CGAP, she served as an Examiner of non-bank financial institutions and as an Associate in the Financial Sector Development Unit of the Central Bank of the Republic of Zambia, focussing on financial inclusion and financial education programs. She was also Project Manager and Compliance Manager at First National Bank Zambia, a subsidiary of the FirstRand Group, and led projects on agent networks and Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) compliance. Majorie holds a Master of Philosophy Degree in Development Finance from the University of Stellenbosch Business School, an undergraduate degree in Banking and Finance from the Copperbelt University and is currently completing the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) Program, a certification offered by the Global Association of Risk Professionals.

Daniel Rozas

Daniel Rozas is a Senior Microfinance Expert at e-MFP and a consultant and researcher on a broad range of topics. Daniel is also co-founder of the MIMOSA project, which provides a methodological assessment of market saturation and risk of overindebtedness for leading microfinance markets. Prior to his microfinance career, Daniel worked for the US mortgage investment company Fannie Mae during 2001-08, where he had first-hand experience with the extraordinary boom-and-bust cycle that took place in the US mortgage market during this period. Daniel resides in Brussels, Belgium, and holds an MBA from the University of Maryland and an undergraduate degree in music from the Peabody Conservatory. 

Mithila A. Sarah

Mithila is a Research Associate at XKDR Forum and has previously worked with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Centre for Budget and Policy Studies and CRISIL. She holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Economics from National University of Singapore and a Bachelor’s degree from Mumbai University. Her research interests include household finance, gender studies and social policy. Her current work centres around measuring financial inclusion and wellbeing.  

Juan Carlos Izaguirre

Juan Carlos Izaguirre is a Senior Financial Sector Specialist at the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) –an independent think tank on financial inclusion housed at the World Bank. He leads supervisory work in digital finance and financial consumer protection focused on customer outcomes. Mr. Izaguirre has over 20 years of financial sector regulatory and supervisory experience, with focus on digital financial inclusion, consumer protection, and deposit insurance. In the past 9 years he has worked with financial sector authorities and standard setters to develop and adopt responsible financial inclusion policies, regulation and supervisory practices. Prior to joining CGAP, Mr. Izaguirre was a founder of the World Bank’s Global Program on Financial Consumer Protection, where he led technical assistance in over 20 countries. Previously, he was a prudential and conduct supervisor at the Superintendence of Banking, Insurance and Private Pensions of Peru. He has trained supervisors with Toronto Centre, Digital Frontiers Institute, Financial Stability Institute, and Boulder Institute of Microfinance. Mr. Izaguirre holds a master’s degree in International Relations and Public Administration from Syracuse University, and a master’s in Finance from Universidad del Pacífico of Peru.

Gaurav Gupta

An alumnus of University of Warwick (MSc), MDI Gurgaon (PGPM) and University of Delhi (BA), Gaurav worked as a banker for most of his professional life of nineteen years prior to joining the university in February 2021. Prior to joining the university, he was consulting with LabourNet- a private sector firm focussed on skilling, employment, and livelihoods for blue-collared workers in rural and urban India and has also worked as Director Operations at Aarusha Homes- a private sector firm providing low-cost rental housing to students and entry-level white-collared workers new to metros. He is a CFA charterholder from the CFA Institute, USA. Gaurav is currently teaching a course on Money, Banking and Financial Markets at Azim Premji University and has previously taught at other institutions as a visiting faculty in Managerial Economics, Indian Financial System and Public Economics. He has published in The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Decision and The Asian Journal of Law and Economics. His recent research work has focussed on India’s IT-BPM Industry, MGNREGA, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, India’s Asset Reconstruction Market, and role of policy measures in exacerbating rather than limiting the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/08. 

Anuradha Ganapathy

Anuradha Ganapathy is a Research Associate at IT for Change.Her work interest lie in the areas of the digital gender divide, technology adoption at the margins, digital and economic justice, and platforms for development.

Amol Kulkarni

Amol is a Research Director at CUTS International. He leads research and advocacy initiatives in sectors like finance, mobility, data, among others. His research focuses at the intersection of competition, regulation, and consumer protection frameworks across sectors. He regularly contributes op-eds for leading publications and has represented CUTS at various national and global platforms. Previously, he has worked with Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and Amarchand Mangaldas Suresh A. Shroff & Co. He holds bachelor degrees in law and business administration from National Law University, Jodhpur, and certification on Regulatory Impact Assessment from Jacobs, Cordova, and Associates, United States. 

Vaibhav Raaj

Vaibhav is a Programme Officer at the ILO, and in this role, he coordinates ILO’s India work in the fields of social security and social dialogue, among other things. In his prior role, he managed ILO’s ongoing work with the ESIC, to identify solution pathways to challenges identified by the ESI beneficiaries. As part of that work, he co-authored a report (Social security: Accessing medical benefits under ESI Scheme: A demand-side perspective (ilo.org)) on ESI beneficiaries’ experiences, while engaging with several stakeholders and experts actively studying and transforming India’s SHP landscape.

Dr. Mamidipudi Ramakrishna Sharan

Dr. Mamidipudi Ramakrishna Sharan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research centres around questions in development economics and political economy. He has worked as a researcher and policy economist, with research organizations, state governments and the central government in India. He received his PhD from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in May 2020. Subsequently, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center For Global Development. His research focuses on inequality in socially diverse settings and how institutional and technological innovations could empower marginalized groups. Dr. Sharan’s research has been funded by grants from JPAL’s Governance Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Weiss Foundation, among others. In addition to research in economics, he writes more broadly. His first narrative non-fiction book on village politics in Bihar titled Last Among Equals (reviews: The HinduThe Business StandardThe India Forum) released in December 2021 in India. His novel Blue (review: The Mint) was published by HarperCollins in 2014.

Shreya Garg

Shreya Garg leads the Law, Finance and Development team at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, New Delhi. She currently works on law and policy issues on the intersection of finance and inclusion. At Vidhi, she has worked on several legal reform projects with government ministries in the areas of insolvency, banking and finance, corporate laws. She completed her LLM from Queen Mary University of London, on a Chevening scholarship, and her LLB from National Law University, Jodhpur.

Dr. Daryl Collins

Dr. Daryl Collins is the CEO and Founder of Decodis, a social research firm that creates tech-led, customized data capture and analysis to elevate the voices of vulnerable populations. She is the author of the acclaimed Portfolios of the Poor and a pioneer working at the intersection of finance and human vulnerability. In the past two decades, Dr. Collins has built a broad portfolio of work with financial service providers, foundations, bilateral donors and governments. Her work is grounded in a deep understanding of the financial lives of individuals through the execution of Financial Diaries studies in over 10 countries. Dr. Collins spent the last decade as Managing Director and CEO of BFA Globoal, a niche financial inclusion consulting practice. She holds a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. in economics from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. from New York University.

Dr Pallavi Roy

Pallavi is a Senior lecturer in International Economics at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS where she teaches political economy. She is currently the Research Director of the FCDO’s Anti-Corruption Evidence research partnership consortium with responsibility for research on Nigeria as well co-Principal Investigator of another FCDO funded programme, Research Evidence for Nepal’s Transition. Pallavi’s research areas include the political economy of growth in late developers, governance and corruption, digitization and inclusion (some articles she has co-authored on digitization can be found here and here), Institutional Economics, and modern South Asian History. Her experience includes political economy research on South Asia and Nigeria. She has extensive work experience with bilateral and multilateral donors like the FCDO, Agence Française du Développement and the World Bank, national ministries and agencies in Bangladesh and Nigeria. She has previously worked as a business journalist in India and a political risk consultant in London.