Maria A May

June 28, 2016

Connecting the dots: Creating an inclusive digital ecosystem in Bangladesh

In April, BRAC, Access to Information (a2i), fhi360, USAID and IFMR LEAD jointly organised an event named ‘Digital financial inclusion: Innovations from Bangladesh’ to invite local stakeholders to discuss their experiences and emerging solutions (see a recent write-up by IMFR LEAD summarising the event).
March 3, 2016

No lines, no relief camp: 4 lessons on using mobile money for post-flood relief

The increasing effects of climate change should be reshaping the way that we think about poverty alleviation and development. For many households, the shocks from a natural disaster can lead to increased economic and social vulnerabilities. 
February 22, 2016
BLOG General

Scaling social innovation: An art or a science?

If there were a simple recipe for social innovation, anyone could easily transform an idea into an impactful solution reaching millions. Unfortunately things are a lot messier on the ground. Many ‘amazing’ innovations that promise to save millions of lives fail to scale and quietly disappear.
October 29, 2015

How hard is it to use mobile money as a rural Bangladeshi woman?

For Shahina, a poor woman living in the remote rural district of Noakhali in southern Bangladesh, getting cash used to be a long ordeal. Since she didn’t have a mobile wallet, Shahina used to have to travel three kilometres to visit the local bKash agent to collect remittances sent by her husband and two sons, who were working in the city. Sometimes she was unable to make the trip without someone to watch her children. The roads are often impassable after rains and the market is far away. And often the agent charges informal ‘service fees’ before dispensing her cash.
September 15, 2015

Five ways to get frontline staff excited about mobile money

Bangladesh is a fast-growing mobile money market. With bKash, the second-largest mobile money provider in the world, industry growth in the country has reached impressive heights. Between January 2013 and February of this year, the number of mobile money clients in Bangladesh increased five-fold to 25 million users, with the number of daily transactions increasing from 10 million to 77 million.
June 25, 2015

6 questions for microfinance’s biggest ‘haters’: Why it’s time for the sector to shake off its critics

This blog was originally posted on 59 minutes of development and  Next Billion. Since January, when six randomised control trials were published 'definitively' stating that microcredit is not a viable poverty alleviation tool, microfinance has been taking a lot of heat in the media. One recent article went so far as to compare it to "a zombie that refuses to die." What's kind of funny is that the researchers themselves weren't quite so negative, not that anyone will take the time to read a massive research document. Here's a line I liked.
June 7, 2015

Beyond pilots: 7 innovative ways BRAC will use mobile money to transform systems

While not without challenges and surprises, our experiences indicated that we should be thinking bigger, about how we could significantly scale the use of mobile money in our operations.
March 5, 2015

4 things that surprised us about using mobile money for school fee payments

Sometimes it seems like everyone is talking about mobile money. Last week Jim Kim said that he sees mobile money as a path to give financial access to all by 2020 and to end extreme poverty by 2030. Bill and Melinda Gates boldly bet that mobile money will help the poor transform their lives in the next 15 years. We responded with a piece on how NGOs like BRAC are ensuring that mobile money helps those who need it most.
March 1, 2015

Customer service at BRAC: Empowering women through empowered women

Even when introducing herself, Babita’s enthusiasm is contagious. “Maybe you think that you can’t change how you manage your money. It’s too hard. Well, I used to think that I could never get up in front of a group of people and give a presentation. But here I am. BRAC taught me how. So if I can do this, then you can do anything.”
January 25, 2015

Mobile money needs the support of grassroots organisations to reach its potential

Last Thursday, the 2015 Gates letter  identified mobile money as a transformative innovation for the next 15 years, driving faster improvement of the lives of people in poor countries than has ever been seen.
November 18, 2014
BLOG General

Voices from across South Asia: sharing stories on scaling up what works

Nothing draws an audience faster than a good story.  The best stories transport the listener to a new perspective, down a journey of twists and turns, moments of despair, and of course, triumph. What better way to start to untangle the complexities of scaling social impact in the context of South Asia than to focus on the stories of organisations that have made it there?  Theories are great, but without deep grounding in experiences and practice, they often have little application.
June 1, 2014

7 ways BRAC will innovate with mobile money this year

We are excited to officially announce the winners of the innovation fund for mobile money challenge! These projects were selected from the 100 ideas that were submitted on the innovation fund challenge web site, reviewed by external advisors, and finally decided on by an internal judging panel. These projects will be implemented over the course of the next year by BRAC in Bangladesh—so stay tuned for many more updates!