Understanding the future of work

By Busara’s Future of Work Group

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Vadim Kaipov on Unsplash.

Maybe it’s some mass anchoring effect that has us tethered to the office as a key tenement of what it means to work. Or perhaps sunk cost fallacy has us so invested in the idea of an office that we can’t unthink it. Whatever it is, offices — and the typical working structures they represent — are a testament to how hard it is to change a pervasive culture. In some sense they are like the aeolipile — machines outside their time, one lost in the past and the other in the future. Written about in De Architectura, a book by Roman author and architect Vivitrus, the aeolipile showed the world the capacity of steam powered engines in the 1st Century BC. Why didn’t the industrial revolution come about then? …

The tension between meeting basic needs and social distancing

By David Wünschel and Brian Baraza

Image for post
Image for post
By Frank Busch on Unsplash


For wealthy people from wealthy countries, it may not always be easy, though usually quite feasible to be socially distant: Just stay home as much as possible, maybe read more books or watch a little more Netflix, and keep a distance from others when leaving the house.

Things are not that simple for the more than 800 million people living in informal settlements in the Global South. Many of them rely on daily wages, meaning that any day they don’t leave the house is one they will not find food. …

Top ten priorities for maximum impact

By Ruth Canagarajah

Image for post
Image for post
By Kenny Luo on Unsplash

This is the first in a series of reflective thought pieces on our work in East Africa, especially as it relates to programming, partnerships and funding in the governance and civil society space.

Funding is a complex and delicate process that unearths various challenges, paradoxes and tensions. Over the last five years, we have worked on over 500 projects with a variety of partners in the sub Saharan region with particular respect to East Africa. Our experience in executing strategy, research and evaluation cuts across different sectors such as civil society, governmental, health, agricultural and more.

By reflecting upon our experience, we can begin to identify trends and best practices to create an environment that promotes robust research, evaluation and capacity building. Below is a summary of the 10 priorities for funders to keep in mind when seeking to support effective research and program delivery in the region. The full document can be found here. …

How to create effective messaging to stop violence against children

By Winnie Mughogho, Esther Owelle, Joel Mumo, Jennifer Adhiambo and Suleiman Amanela

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Raz Cohen on Unsplash.

Understanding taxpayer perceptions in Somaliland

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Hadis Malekie on Unsplash

As the saying goes — where there is a will, there is inheritance tax. Tax as the bane of existence has been a narrative that has been around since the first king asked “Wait, who allowed you to sell this on my land?” The truth is, taxes are a very real and necessary part of the economic ecosystem, vital to keeping everything in balance. When people can’t see it this way, they find ways to not pay. …

Using photography to better understand diversity at Busara

By Amy Shipow and Linda Kimaru

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Elly Brian on Unsplash.

In an attempt to baffle his enemies, a hare was once told to have woven himself a coat that had two perfect halves, one dyed perfectly red and the other blue. He then walked right between the jackal and the hyena, such that each only saw one side of the coat. The jackal turned to the hyena and said “once we catch that hare, I’m going to take that lovely red coat all for myself.” The hyena responded “you can have the coat — but only if you admit its blue.” …

The key to fostering collaboration between grantees

By Grace Kamau, Salim Kombo and Monica Kay

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

When you’re giving grants to support marginalized and discriminated groups across two continents, the fact that there are similarities and learnings that can be cross pollinated cannot be ignored. Voice, an organization that works to increase access to productive and social rights and services, was no exception. To them, linking and learning quickly emerged as a powerful tool as it would help them connect similar advocacy and organizations beyond geographical borders. …

Improving loan repayment rates using behavioral science

By Opeoluwa Onigbinde and Samuel Oyegunle

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

“Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh — what’s that good for?”

-Salarino, a bystander in the play

The antagonist in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice is a Jewish moneylender called Shylock. In the story Antonio — the merchant of Venice — takes a loan from Shylock for his business. The collateral for the loan is a pound of his own flesh from whichever part of his body pleases Shylock (all in good sport, goes the quote). Antonio’s business doesn’t do well and he doesn’t pay up. …

Misinformation and Geography

By the Busara OTR Team. Special thanks to Tommie Thompson, Kriti Chouhan, Anisha Singh and Aditya Jagati for their input, research and collaboration on this piece.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

In 2017 The Shed at Dulwich finally became the top rated restaurant in London on Tripadvisor. The thing is — The Shed did not exist. Journalist Oobah Butler had listed the fake restaurant as “an appointment-only restaurant located in South London, The Shed has been operating privately for years.” He then paid up to 10 pounds per review to get people to leave him good ratings on imaginary meals — a menu he had categorized according to “mood.” …

Why and how to set up a decision lab

By Irene Ngina and Mantasha Husain

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Caleb Shong on Unsplash

“Why do people choose the things they choose?” is a question faced by most professionals in today’s world. Whatever work you are doing, the end goal is up to a decision, which is often made by someone else. If you are a PhD student then you are worried about 2, maybe 3, decision makers. If you are a salesperson for a mid sized company, you might be thinking about a few hundred thousand people. For a policy maker, however, we are talking about millions of people with different backgrounds, ideas and philosophies.

This gets even more complicated when creating policies around poverty. Poverty imposes a cognitive tax, which leads to decision cycles that perpetuate further poverty. These decisions are a nightmare for policy makers. A nightmare that gets even worse when they try to solve it, as most behavioral data comes from institutions in middle class areas of the west — an environment facing a completely different set of challenges. …


Busara Center

Busara is a research and advisory firm dedicated to advancing Behavioral Science in the Global South

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store