Category Archives: South Asia

Mobile Money and the Informal Economy: A Paradigm Change

By | July 9, 2019

One of the most powerful pieces of data analysis I have come across recently has been the Banque de France’s working paper on the role of financial innovation in the informal economy. In my opinion, the importance of their conclusions are no less than the famous “price of fish” paper of a decade ago –… Read More »

Book Review: Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel

By | July 5, 2019

Although the book I’ll be reviewing today was first published in the year 2007, I only came upon it this year in a used bookstore. Raj Patel’s Stuffed and Starved lays bare the innards of the world’s food distribution systems and the market dominance of the megacorps in the business. The Guardian’s original review captures… Read More »

Pondering India’s Cashless Future

By | November 28, 2018

Chhotu here accepts digital currency payments via the mobile platform on a daily basis. His QR code is prominently displayed upfront next to the bottles of sauce, and a sticker displays the icons of all the payment apps acceptable to his Bhim app. The Bhim system, launched by the Government of India, is a godsend… Read More »

Financial Patterns at the Last Mile of the Farm to Fork Value Chain

By | October 19, 2018

This value web illustrates the last mile of the farm to fork agricultural value chain in the state of Maharashtra, India. We’d mapped it during our project/s for the Dutch government back in mid 2013, where we’d introduced human centered design thinking for sustainable agricultural value chain development. Subsequently, I led a multidisciplinary team conducting… Read More »

India’s Hidden Middle Class and the MNC Conundrum

By | February 7, 2018

The Economist writes a rather breathless take on a theme very popular just over a decade ago – the Great Indian Middle Class so longingly hoped and wished for still hadn’t emerged to satisfy the consumption habits preferred by the global multinational brands. Where were they, the article shrilly asked, unquestioningly promoting China’s middle class… Read More »

Savings Groups : Observations on Economic Cooperation and Collaboration in Rural and Informal Conditions

By | October 29, 2017

Recently, I was interviewed on communal rural economic behaviour, particularly socially cooperative ones  such as informal savings and lending groups. The questions posed were: How has your opinion of savings group changed over time? Why in your opinion, are people in Africa and Latin America countries (developing countries) predisposed to forming savings groups? What is… Read More »

Absolute Numbers 2007-2017: The “Developing” World Now Dominates the Internet

By | October 17, 2017

Traditionally, the data on ICT usage across the world tends to be presented proportionally – per capita usage, or penetration in the form of percentage of population. This made sense 10 years ago, when the world had just begun to notice the rapid growth of mobile phone adoption in developing regions. The typical example shown… Read More »

Fundamental Elements of Informal Sector Commercial Activity

By | July 28, 2017

There are two key elements which underpin the dynamics of any business or commercial enterprise in the informal sector. These are Time and Money. A generalized framework can be diagrammed, as shown above, where the dotted line denotes the degree of uncertainty and volatility of an individual’s cash flow patterns – whether from a variety… Read More »

Work in Progress: An Introduction to the Informal Economy’s Commercial Environment

By | July 27, 2017

This topic is being shared in the form of a collection of essays on the following themes, each becoming hyperlinked on completion. Do bookmark this page for regular updates. Introduction to Background and Context, some caveats apply Fundamental Elements of Informal Sector Commercial Activity Rural household financial management as a foundation Linkages and Networks span… Read More »

Financial Behaviour Patterns Observed Among Households in Rural Informal Economy in Asia

By | July 24, 2017

This is the original working paper of the research conducted on rural household financial management, in developing country conditions, pioneering the use of methods from human centered design for discovery, during Nov 2008 to March 2009, aka the Prepaid Economy Project. It was peer reviewed by Brett Hudson Matthews, and I have incorporated his comments into… Read More »