Continuing CGAP’s blog series on practitioners’ takes on our Impact and Policy Conference
in Bangkok, Gordon Cooper, head of Emerging Market Solutions at Visa shares his perspective
. There to moderate a panel on financial inclusion, he talks about what it was like to come from the private sector into a room full of academic researchers:
You see, I’m a regular on the conference circuit. But the gatherings I’m familiar with operate in a different world. Dominated by private sector business types, these events are identifiable by conveniently predictable, if often vacuous, buzzwords; everyone’s got an out-of-the-box paradigm buster to share.
After Mr. Cooper (on the right in the photo) learned he was a “practitioner” (who knew?) he quickly dove into the conference, talking to researchers like Josh Blumenstock
(left in photo), whose presentation showed how mobile money flowed around Rwanda on the day of a natural disaster, research with obvious application to private sector companies in the money transfer business. (See a plain language summary by Josh, including a video visualizing the transfer patterns, here
Mr. Cooper points out there’s a wealth of information available without getting on a flight to a conference:
Judging from my day at the conference, there’s a ton of great material out there (not all of it RCTs, or even quant, no doubt). It could be of real relevance to existing and would-be providers, so long as they knew about it! So, my first thought on how this academic research might have greater impact is this: get the word out.
He points out that there are resources out there for practitioners but the links between the two worlds aren’t as strong as they could be:
IPA has a great searchable database of publications they’re involved in – but how many existing and prospective demand-side providers have the URL bookmarked? If the task at hand is to get the people who offer financial services to step up their innovation game in end-user product design (reasons for optimism here; the nature of the challenge here), we need to share the treasure trove of existing academic research far and wide.
Mr. Cooper makes a good point, academics are producing lots of good data-based insights of use to practitioners, how can we get the word out better? Read the full post here
, and post your recommendations below on how to bridge the communication gap between evidence and practice.