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Mallory St Claire
I am passionate about:
economic development, complexity theory, data and development economics
A little known fact about me is:
I am a Marvel and Star Wars supernerd
Show my name on the attendees list for events I am attending:
Global Fellow - Social Impact
Gray Matters Capital India
I'm an American living in Bangalore and working in the social enterprise space.
I'm lucky enough to be an IDEX Accelerator Fellow, and in addition to cultivating important skills in nonprofits, NGO's and other social enterprises, I work with a start-up social enterprise.
I've worked on projects in Uganda, Rwanda, and Panama. I also studied and taught English in China.
Passionate about travel, international business, and the social impact space.
When we surveyed community members, savings use was highly varied. A lot of people said they wanted to save for emergencies or school fees for kids. Additionally, when we spoke to community members, they detailed some informal ways of saving. Community members (and this is in the Southern part of Uganda) often buy livestock, jewelry, goods like TV's, or they stash their money under a mattress or in a clay pot.
Obviously these can be unstable forms of investment, and you don't accrue interest the way you can in a formal savings account. I think a lot of these microsavings products can be extremely beneficial, especially to low income communities. If you believe the "poverty trap" hypothesis, we know that for low income families, wages are very irregular - you can have a lot of money one week, not so much the next. Furthermore, families are very susceptible to disasters or "shocks," like someone getting sick, bad crop season, family death, etc.
These microsavings products and other products specially designed for low-income people can help smooth the income cycle and protect against shocks. I think that mobile money like M-PESA holds a lot of promise in this regard. I have also seen some MFI's offering microinsurance, and that can be especially useful to subsistence farmers.
Bangalore is quite interesting and very challenging! I have also been sick twice here...luckily the healthcare is cheap. This wouldn't happen to me if the food wasn't so delicious.
We were actually going to expand this lockbox saving system to individual schools - we were just trying to figure out how to track each student's deposit record. Each school could have a deposit box, or each grade, and a student would come and put their small coins in.
I think this theme of instilling savings culture from a young age had permeated throughout this project. Because for me, I had a little allowance ($5 USD) which my parents gave to me, and I could spend it on something but I had to save a little bit. I like the idea of the small money pouches and the fortnightly transfers! It could create a sense of healthy competition and positive peer pressure to contribute to your bank account.