Friday, June 19, 2009
His “plight” immediately came to mind when I came across this paper: Put your Money where your Butt is: A Commitment Contract for Smoking Cessation. Authors Xavier Gine (World Bank), Dean Karlan (Innovations for Poverty Action), and Jonathan Zinman (Innovations for Poverty Action) research the effectiveness of CARES (Committed Action to Reduce and End Smoking), a commitment product designed for people who want to quit smoking. In this study, research participants were offered the opportunity to open an interest-free savings account. The account required clients to make weekly deposits (of their own money) in the amount they would have otherwise spent on cigarettes. After six and again at 12 months, CARES clients underwent a urinalysis to test for recent nicotine consumption. CARES clients who passed the test received the balance of their deposits; those who failed (or did not take) the test forfeited the entire balance to charity.
The results were surprisingly positive, especially considering the bank account offered zero interest and there was a high likelihood of losing money. At six months, smokers randomly offered CARES were 3 to 6 percentage points more likely to pass than the control group, and CARES clients were 32 to 35 percentage points more likely to pass than the control group. The 12-month test revealed that smokers offered CARES were 4 to 6 percentage points more likely to pass the test than the control group, and CARES clients were 34 to 53 percentage points more likely to pass the test than the control group. The study also found that CARES treatment compares favorably to those found for nicotine replacement therapy in randomized controlled trials in other settings. The take-up rate was promising, as well: more than 1 in 10 of the people offered the treatment product signed up for the CARES program.
I’m not sure how this type of arrangement would work for my friend, but it does offer a provocative way to think about the potential of smoking cessation treatments.
"As the economists rumble, however, the poor get on with the messy business of living. On this, two new books chart a refreshingly distinct path. "Portfolios of the Poor and The Beautiful Tree avoid the big picture and zoon in on the basics of dialy poverty, exploring how poor families manage their money and educate their children. Their conclusions leave room for hope, based less on trust in big answers than on faith in human ingenuity."
Read the full review here:
Monday, June 15, 2009
This morning, Tom Ashbrook, the host of On Point (WBUR) spoke with researchers Stuart Rutherford and Daryl Collins and one of their survey participants, Lufefe, about what it really means to live on $2 a day. Lufefe, along with hundreds of others, participated in a year-long survey of the poor’s financial practices. Rutherford and Collins, along with Jonathan Morduch and Orlanda Ruthven, gathered meticulous financial diaries that demonstrate not only don’t the poor live hand-to-mouth, but they manage their money well enough to save for life’s big emergencies and celebrations. If you visit WBUR’s site, you can listen to the program and also view a series of photos taken in the Langa Township where Lufefe lives and where much of the research was conducted.
Collins and Rutherford’s research is available in Portfolios of the Poor. Visit the book’s web site here: http://www.portfoliosofthepoor.com/
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Monday, June 15
Location: Clemente Soto Velez center, 107 Suffolk St (at Rivington)
Join Kiva and ACCION USA for an evening of entertainment and networking! The event will include live music, a silent auction, raffle prizes, and a food & drink cash bar. View the invitation here. A "blender" is an event in which two organizations come together to explore their common goal of raising awareness about microfinance and the impact of microloans on the lives of entrepreneurs.
Please RSVP to bLENDer2009invite@gmail.com
Thursday, June 18
Microfinance in Our Midst: A Path to Economic Independence in New York
Presented by the Microfinance Club of New York (MFCNY) and Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM), this panel discussion brings together representatives of diverse financial institutions, ranging from small business loans (SeedCo Financial), community development credit unions (Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union), group lending programs (Grameen America), diversified lending and economic development organizations (The Business Center for New Americans), as well as the Empire State Development Corporation, which supports lending and asset building programs across the state.
This panel is packed with microfinance experts! Moderated by Daniel Delehanty, Vice President of Community Development Banking at Capital One Bank, panelists include: Edwin Hong, Senior Vice President, Seedco Financial; Leslie Kane, Vice President of Strategy and Finance, Grameen America; Jeffrey Metzler, Vice President of Economic Empowerment, Empire State Development Corporation; Samira Rajan, CEO, Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union; Yanki Tshering, Executive Director, Business Center for New Americans.
Panelists will outline the relative differences between the domestic and international microfinance sector. They will consider questions like:
-What is the profile and needs of the underserved community which they target?
-What services do they provide (both financial and non-financial) and what is their impact?
-What are the relative advantages and challenges of their business structure?
-How has the current economic crisis affected their business structure?
-Is their business sustainable?
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, company name, and membership status.
Fee: MFCNY and WAM members-free; non-members-$10
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The office is quiet this week: FAI directors and staff are in
Published less than a month ago, Portfolios of the Poor has already received a considerable amount of press:
Noted Times columnist Nicholas Kristof reviews the book here:
Portfolios of the Poor is featured in the New York Times Idea of the Day, an editor-run blog dedicated to "highlighting the most interesting writing on the Web."
Portfolios of the Poor co-author, Daryl Collins, discusses the complex and sophisticated instruments with which the poor manage their unpredictable incomes in a Boston Globe article.
PRNewswire New York reviews Portfolios of the Poor.