Fellow Spotlight: Crunching the Numbers on Development Effectiveness

The Grameen Foundation Fellowship provides a big opportunity for skilled professionals to make an impact in the fight against poverty. We were recently reminded of this yet again when, at a meeting with senior microfinance/financial inclusion staff at the IFC, our new report on microfinance poverty outreach in Latin America was heralded as a highlight in development effectiveness research.

Naomi Crowther

The lead author and analyst on that report was one of our 2014/15 fellows, Naomi Crowther. Naomi came to us with an undergraduate degree in Economics from Sussex University and an MPA in Public and Economic Policy from the London School of Economics. She brought a passion for “creating empirically sound impact analysis of development programs to inform policy”, and in that she definitely succeeded during in her year in the field.

The report was the first of its kind to be undertaken in Latin America. Naomi analyzed data from 14 microfinance institutions (MFIs) across six Latin American countries, and conducted in-depth interviews with those institutions to contextualize that data. Her research provides empirical data on how effectively Latin American MFIs are currently reaching the poor, and her analysis provides important suggestions for improvement.

Anne Hastings, Executive Director, Microfinance CEO Working Group, recently summarized the importance of these findings, and praised the effort, calling for more studies like it.

Naomi’s work also afforded her the opportunity to travel to several countries in the region to present her findings, including at the VII Foro Internacional Latinoamericano De Banca Comunal conference in Bolivia. Naomi says though that all this is merely the beginning, and that there is “so much more that we can do!” She hopes the report will help convince even more MFIs to share their data, to provide a larger sample size, and possibilities for more granular analysis.

After her fellowship, Naomi is joining the World Bank as a research analyst in the Development Impact Evaluation unit, where she’ll be evaluating youth employment efforts in high-violence areas of Central America.

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