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On May 27 at 2:00pm, join Rodger Voorhies, director of the Financial Services for the Poor Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Christopher Blattman, assistant professor of political science and international affairs at Columbia University, as they discuss how mobile finance and direct cash grants are revolutionizing global efforts to alleviate poverty. Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs, will moderate.
In his recent article, "The Mobile-Finance Revolution," Voorhies explains how mobile technology offers the developing world the promises of financial inclusion and relief from poverty. “According to the World Bank, mobile signals now cover some 90 percent of the world’s poor, and there are, on average, more than 89 cell-phone accounts for every 100 people living in a developing country. That presents an extraordinary opportunity: mobile-based financial tools have the potential to dramatically lower the cost of delivering banking services to the poor.”
In “Show Them the Money,” Blattman explains why direct cash grants are as good, if not better, than traditional aid when it comes to reducing poverty. “‘Just give the poor cash’ is an old refrain. What is new, however, is a burgeoning body of experimental evidence, produced by groups ranging from the nonprofit Innovations for Poverty Action to the World Bank, on how the effect of cash grants compares to that of in-kind donations. Recent studies have come to surprising conclusions, finding that typically lauded approaches to reducing poverty, such as educational and loan programs, are not so effective after all.”