A provocative and heartening look at a revolution in financial services.


Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid

A detailed account of how new technologies are helping people excluded from traditional financial services, resulting in large-scale industry disruption. 

About 2.5 billion people—half the world’s adult population—are effectively excluded from financial institutions and instruments largely taken for granted by the other half. For the poorest population, this means that even the simplest tasks—cashing a paycheck, sending a remittance to a family member, applying for a small loan, etc.—are either impossible or prohibitively expensive. Oftentimes, merely opening a bank account is daunting due to the onerous deposit requirements or demands for multiple identification documents. The modern banking world is built like a pyramid: cheap and effective for those who comfortably reside at the top and predatory for those stuck at the bottom. Debut authors Mehta and Realini, both veteran entrepreneurs with backgrounds in financial-services innovation, depict the plight of these “financial nomads” addled with practical burdens, not to mention their regular indignities. The good news is that sophisticated alternatives—especially ones built on easily accessible mobile platforms—now offer much needed relief. The authors discuss several specific programs that have already become widely adopted in places like Kenya, the Philippines, and Bangladesh. Not only are these systems achieving great success, they are also compelling a sea change within the all-too-exclusionary banking sector. The book includes a discussion of practical ways to improve financial inclusiveness, like revising an antiquated system for formulating credit scores worldwide. The more sweeping argument the authors make is that these looming changes will not only benefit the poorest, but will generally stimulate economic growth and encourage increased governmental transparency. This is an impressively lucid work that necessarily engages highly technical issues in accessible prose. Underlying every analytical insight is refreshing optimism regarding the future of international financial services. While readers might not agree with the sentiment expressed in the foreword, written by Jeffrey D. Sachs, that the “end of poverty is coming our way,” it’s hard to disagree that welcome changes are here, with more on the horizon.

A provocative and heartening look at a revolution in financial services.

Pub Date: July 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-6551-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?