Innovations for Poverty Action

IPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating, evaluating, and replicating innovative solutions to poverty and policy problems worldwide. Combining technical rigor and creative thinking, IPA partners with frontline organizations to create and evaluate context-specific solutions to poverty problems. IPA is driven by the belief that concrete evidence on what works, what does not work, and why, will accelerate the eradication of global poverty.
Jun 28, 2010

Microfinance Consulting for Entrepreneurs in Ghana

After nine days in Accra, we had the opportunity wrap up our experience in the city with an organization at the forefront of development, Innovations for Poverty Action. Their project in Accra took the best and brightest minds of America’s business consulting world and sent them to aid small scale entrepreneurs with $200 capital investment in hand for the businesses.

Unfortunately, due to our tight travel schedule, we did not have the chance to meet some of the beneficiaries, but we did manage to fit in a meeting with one of the project team members of IPA. He explained to us that the project concluded implementation activities in January 2010, and the organization is currently assessing and evaluating the impact of it. It’s too early to tell whether or not the project has successfully impacted the women’s businesses, but we can be relatively assured that the women learned a lot from the project and were highly appreciative of the capital funds.

Andrew and four other In-the-Field Travelers are currently in Ghana before they are making their way to Mali and Burkina Faso. They'll be visiting more than 30 GlobalGiving projects in the next month. Follow their adventures at

Feb 1, 2010

Winter Update

Thanks to your generous support, we were able to provide 1 year of consulting services to 80 lucky micro-enterprises in Ghana! From February 2009 to January 2010, four Ernst and Young strategy consultants logged an approximate total of 1200 hours of training with our micro-enterprises, an average of 15 hours per enterprise. They covered a wide variety of topics, like record keeping, procurement, costing, customer service, time management, banking and saving, marketing in sales, formalization of business, and growth strategies. In addition to these general topics, the consultants spent many hours sitting with the micro-enterprises and talking through the important decisions their businesses are facing: for example, if an enterprise's lease is up, is it better to renew the lease or look for a new location? We are now hard at work evaluating the impact of our program and planning our next steps. Thank you for your generous support!

Oct 14, 2009

A postcard from Protect and Invest in Farmers from Ghana

On June 5 I visited farmers in the small towns surrounding Tamale, the northern region of Ghana which is more desert-like than its lush neighbors to the south. The purpose of this project is to bring farmers out of subsistence farming and protect them from weather calamities. IPA is testing whether farmers will invest more in their farms if they have access to capital or insurance. We visited ten farmers – half who were receiving insurance money and half who were receiving capital, not based on rain. The insurance schedule is as follows: during the rainy season which is June, July, August, and September, farmers receive insurance money if there are 18 or more days of rain or 8 or less days of rain. The amount is based on their acreage and the number away from 18 or 8. It encourages people to produce on a greater scale in order to move away from only subsistence farming. The rains are late coming and the city is dry, hot, and agitated. The end of May is already late, but beginning of June – June 5th even and no rain? Too, too late. As we plod through each village, sweating profusely and searching for some shade – the IPA team and I all just look at each other, waiting for the heat to break and the rains to fall, and for mother nature to help these families out. The stark difference between the power of climate control in my life and the dependence on nature in Tamale is astonishing, how controlled my life is from the realities of nature.

In this visit in particular I felt like I met people who the organization was really reaching. Often my visits coincide with a song and dance about the Great Westerner granting the Lowly NGO a visit. But here, we went straight to farmers and they just looked so tired. Many NGO workers end up being the best paid members of a community, but agriculture is the largest employer. These farmers were unmoved by white people’s presence and just looked like – hey, I’m trying my best here, can you let me go do it now?

I’m eager to learn about IPA’s results – whether capital or insurance helped farmers produce more, or if they use the money for other needs outside of farming. Their experiment is run by an incredible project leader (Rob from England) who worked diligently to protect the purity of their experiment, engage with the community, and successfully obtain scientific direction on how to help agriculture in developing countries. I wish the team and farmers luck and if you have any questions feel free to comment!