Using Applied Economics to tackle poverty in Kenya

Gayathri Ramani '12

Gayathri Ramani '12

Gayathri Ramani '12, Senior Research Associate

Major: Economics and Math

Employer: Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)

I worked as a Senior Research Associate for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), a research organization dedicated to discovering and promoting sustainable and cost effective solutions to poverty. They design and conduct randomized evaluations to collect the highest quality data on what works and does not work and use this data to mobilize relevant decision makers in building better programs and policies to scale.

At IPA Kenya, I had the wonderful opportunity to manage several research projects on the ground that are being spearheaded by Professor Tavneet Suri, a researcher based at MIT. These projects spanned across various fields; from testing the impact of a SMS based system on mobilizing voters for the Kenyan Elections to the impact of asset-based collateralized loans on Dairy Farmers in Central Kenya.

In collaboration with my research and field team, I helped design and program survey instruments, coordinate a large team of enumerators as they administered cross-country data collection exercises, and was responsible for data management, quality assessment, and data cleaning. Having taken several statistics and economics courses at Mount Holyoke, I was very comfortable working with large data sets and using statistical software such as STATA.

Econometrics and mathematical modelling courses were especially useful in understanding the technical aspects of randomized evaluations and data analysis. My Mount Holyoke education and summer internships not only assisted in my job at IPA, but it paved the path to a better understanding of my research interests and professional aspirations. I am currently pursuing my masters at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, specializing in Development Economics.