Top MSC blogs of 2023

  • user by MSC
  • time Dec 29, 2023
  • calendar 4 min

In 2023, MSC focused on several sectors, which included MSMEs, agriculture, microfinance, gender, youth, climate change, and digital finance. Most of our work revolved around the use of digital payments and policy changes to arm people from the low- and moderate-income (LMI) segment and build their resilience. We are delighted to reshare our most-read blogs in 2023.

1. Fishing for change: How a policy initiative in India’s Bihar state shows pathways to women’s economic empowerment and climate change adaptation

Explore the transformative approach that the Government of Bihar has undertaken to boost aquaculture in Bihar, through JEEViKA. This blog delves into how JEEViKA mobilizes women SHG-based fish farmer producer groups (FFPGs) and provides them with access to community ponds and water resources to take up aquaculture as a livelihood activity. This initiative has multiple gains, such as improved income and nutrition, increased access and control of women over community resources, and rejuvenation of water resources to tackle climate change. This initiative brings women to the forefront of a livelihood stream that has traditionally been a male domain.

2. Women in the digital economy

The COVID-19 pandemic carved out a prominent role for digital technologies in enabling economic transactions. However, the gender divide in access to digital technologies hurts women’s ability to participate in the labor force. This blog explores the nature of women’s work and how digitization shapes it. We outline the opportunities and challenges in the digital economy and offer recommendations to ensure a fair digital economy for women.

3. How policy changes could revolutionize how entrepreneurs in Kenya can access finance

This blog examines the Kenyan government’s policy reforms to allow entrepreneurs better access to affordable and convenient credit. It specifically looks at how the government’s financial inclusion fund—the Hustler Fund—promises to improve the financial health of MSME

4. UPI 123Pay: The four-leaf clover for feature phone-based payments in India?

UPI broke all records in August 2023. It observed 10.586 billion transactions that amounted to INR 15 trillion (~USD 189.64 billion). It has become the preferred payment choice for digitally-savvy Indians. However, it cannot reach the feature phone users. Its penetration is limited to urban segments with high usage of smartphones and mobile Internet. India is home to 400 million feature phone users. These users have limited avenues for digital transactions. They largely depend on physical access points for financial transactions. This blog discusses an innovative offline payment solution, UPI 123Pay, and its immense potential to bring digital payment convenience to the underserved segment.

5. Daily diaries: Reimagining how we generate insights to optimize cash-in, cash-out

The blog discusses the Agent Diaries approach, a research method that tracks the financial transactions of different types of CICO agents over time. It highlights the data gaps, challenges, and insights related to the agency business. It also compares the traditional and technology-driven ways of data collection and their cost-effectiveness.

6. Decoding agriculture market linkages for FPOs: Lessons from the field

India’s farmers have had a long history of struggle. For decades, they have battled a multitude of agricultural challenges, such as fragmented landholding, numerous intermediaries, and low value addition. In response, the country has actively promoted farmer producer organizations (FPOs) as a solution. FPOs intend to address these serious issues through the aggregation of demand for high-quality inputs, credit, and technologies and the aggregation of outputs to improve smallholder farmers’ market access. Yet despite these efforts, major processors and output purchasing companies hesitate to engage directly with FPOs. This blog explains the options available for FPOs to trade with institutional buyers and the on-ground issues FPOs must overcome to establish better market linkages.

7. Lessons from the Financial Diaries research with women traders in Kenyan open-air markets and cross-border trades

From our financial diaries research, we present the stories of Janet and Rebecca, two inspiring women entrepreneurs in Kenya. Please read our new blog as they shed light on women’s financial realities in the open-air market and cross-border trade sectors in Kenya.

8. DEBIT: Unpacking women’s choice of financial channels

MSC unpacked women’s choice of channels for financial transactions in India, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Indonesia. The result is a tool – the DEBIT framework. The four pillars of the framework are Diffidence, Education, Bias, Investment, and Trust. Read this blog to learn more about the framework and its application.

9. Decoding India’s Digital Personal Data Protection Act

The Digital Personal Data Protection Act (DPDP) of India was published in the Official Gazette on 11th August 2023, after years of deliberations. This came after the Act passed both Houses of Parliament and received Presidential approval. This blog highlights the key provisions of the DPDP Act. Please note that many significant details about the implementation of the Act will be decided later by rules set by the Central Government.


10. Enhancing resilience of smallholder farmers against climate change—can parametric agricultural insurance make a difference?

Parametric insurance solutions can offer smallholder farmers in developing countries an accessible, reliable, and affordable way to protect themselves. A multi-stakeholder approach is needed to make these solutions work for smallholder farmers, supported by catalytic capital for their development and scale-up.

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