Asim Ijaz Khwaja

Tests of character: How personality testing could help financial inclusion

Tests of character: How personality testing could help financial inclusion

October 1, 2016

In rich countries, lenders use credit scores to weigh risk. But just 7% of Africans and 13% of South Asians are covered by private credit bureaus. Bailey Klinger of the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL), which explores new kinds of credit data, argues that psychometrics could scoop many more people into the financial system. Judging character is not new. Psychometrics attempts to make it a science. EFL began life as a research initiative at Harvard. The model used by Creditinfo, a rival firm, was developed with help from Cambridge.

Working 'Smart' in Saudi Arabia

Working 'Smart' in Saudi Arabia

August 24, 2016

An interview with MEI Faculty Affiliate Asim Khwaja - Sumitomo-Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development Professor of International Finance and Development at Harvard Kennedy School - on his work as Co-Director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School's Center for International Development with the Saudi Ministry of Labor on labor market policy in KSA, as well as EPoD's Smart Policy Design and Implementation methodology and the implications for the future of informed, iterative policymaking. 

Caught in the middle

Caught in the middle

June 4, 2016

The Economist

Big and tiny firms often find it easier to borrow than medium-sized ones [...] The Entrepreneurial Finance Lab, a spin-off from a research initiative at Harvard University, is trying out psychometric testing as a way of assessing credit risk. Would-be borrowers complete a short online survey and the software quickly generates an alternative credit score, based on attributes like conscientiousness and confidence. “We want to collateralise people’s human capital,” says Asim Khwaja, a Harvard professor and co-founder of the project.

The Hard Facts on ‘Soft Data’

The Hard Facts on ‘Soft Data’

February 24, 2016

By V. McIntyre - NextBillion

Anyone who has been turned down for a loan based solely on their credit rating knows the sting of being treated as just a number. We all want to be judged on our intents and aspirations, not condemned based on a few late credit card payments after last summer’s vacation. As it turns out, judging based on a single number can shortchange lenders as well as borrowers. Research is showing that a more comprehensive picture based on “soft information” as well as numbers can serve as a firmer basis for judging risk of default.

Humility, iteration, and learning

Humility, iteration, and learning

February 14, 2016

By Christopher Robert - SurveyCTO

“Big data” seems to get all of the news and enthusiasm these days, but there is a quiet revolution in small data that is sweeping the world, sector by sector, organization by organization, department by department. Fueling this revolution everywhere is a new-found value in humility, iteration, and learning. Asim Khwaja, a colleague and former dissertation advisor of mine at the Harvard Kennedy School, recently gave an inspiring talk on the subject.

Girls’ Education: An ideal target for both extremists and humanitarian interventions, scholar says

Girls’ Education: An ideal target for both extremists and humanitarian interventions, scholar says

February 4, 2016

By Shenila Khoja-Moolji - The Washington Post

Such formulations, however, not only re-articulate the binary of victim/heroine, but also abstract education from a complex web of issues such as state corruption, the hollowed-out welfare system, and lack of access to jobs, among others. In the case of Pakistan, for instance, research shows that girls are in school; in fact, there are more girls in higher education than boys!

Education is becoming an extremist battleground in Pakistan

Education is becoming an extremist battleground in Pakistan

January 29, 2016

By Tahir Andrabi and Asim Khwaja - The Washington Post

Education is a unique service – not only because it involves a country’s most precious resource, its children – but also because, by increasing human capital, it strengthens the state not only in the present, but in the future. The fact that this mutually bolstering interaction is one of the few things holding Pakistani society together is precisely why the Taliban wants to destroy it.

Some lenders are judging you on much more than finances

Some lenders are judging you on much more than finances

December 22, 2015

By James Rufus Koren - LA Times

“In banking, it's inconceivable that in the future we'll be making financial decisions in the way we do today. We're making decisions about people based on less than 5% of the information about them,” said Asim Khwaja, a professor of international finance and development at the Harvard Kennedy School who has studied alternative credit scoring in the developing world.

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Making Government Work - Kennedy School Group Aids 13 Nations in Solving Political Problems

November 10, 2015

By Christina Pazzanese - Harvard Gazette

It starts with the best of intentions. When policymakers push a new strategy or program, they usually do so believing their efforts will solve a problem or improve some vital aspect of life for the community. But when the rubber meets the road, things don’t always go as planned, especially in the developing world where administrative capacity, along with access to information and training, is weak.

Asim Khwaja on Evidence for Policy Design

Asim Khwaja on Evidence for Policy Design

September 29, 2015

By Doug Gavel - Harvard Kennedy School

When development economists conduct research, one of the goals is to help practitioners and policymakers create better policies in countries struggling with a host of educational, political, and financial challenges. Asim Ijaz Khwaja is the Sumitomo-Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development Professor of International Finance and Development at Harvard Kennedy School, and co-director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at the Center for International Development.