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Financing Impact

Aug 2, 2023

In our 10th episode, we take a deep-dive into Malengo, an organization that facilitates international educational migration. Malengo helps students from low-income countries with admissions and financing for a bachelor’s degree in a high-income country. We discuss why migration is an important lever for development, and how income-share agreements can make supporting it a worthwhile impact investment.

Our guests bring in 3 different perspectives. Johannes Haushofer is a development economist who founded Malengo based on findings from his research. Richard Nerland is an economist with a passion for academic economics and international development. Convinced by Malengo’s potential for impact, he invested USD 3.5 M into the organization. Along the way, he helped develop a tax-efficient financial model to make Malengo attractive for other investors to follow suit. Gladys Amule is a student from the first cohort of Malengo scholars. She shares her experience with the program and her motivation to pay it forward through Malengo’s income-share agreement.


·       Malengo’s website

·       Johannes’ Twitter thread explaining the academic path that led him to found Malengo

·       Richard’s Twitter thread explaining why the decided to become Malengo’s inaugural investor, including his take-aways from academic literature


Academic papers recommended by our guests

·       Johannes ‘ paper on general equilibrium effects for cash transfers 

Egger, D., J. Haushofer, E. Miguel, P. Niehaus, and M.Walker. 2022. “General Equilibrium Effects of Cash Transfers: Experimental Evidence From Kenya” Econometrica.

·       Michael Clemens economic argument that friction from migration restriction is enormous

Clemens, Michael, A. 2011."Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 25 (3): 83-106. DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.3.83

·       Chris Blattman’s paper on cash transfers wearing off:
Blattman, C.,N. Fiala, N. and S. Martinez, 2019. “The Long Term Impacts of Grants on Poverty: 9-Year Evidence from Uganda's Youth Opportunities Program”. 

·       On brain gain, evidence from nursing programs in the US:
Abarcar, P., and C. Theoharides; C. 2021. “Medical Worker Migration and Origin-Country Human Capital: Evidence from U.S. Visa Policy”. The Review of Economics and Statistics.

·       On brain gain and spill-over effects
Khanna, G., E. Murathanoglu, C.B. Theoharides and D. Yang, 2022, “Abundance from Abroad: Migrant Income and Long-Run Economic Development”, National Bureau of Economic Research, Working paper 29862, DOI 10.3386/w29862

·       Lant Pritchett on labor migration

Migrants, Ancestors, and Foreign Investments

Burchardi, K. Chaney, T. and Hassan, T. 2018, Migrants, Ancestors, and Foreign Investments, The Review of Economic Studies, Volume 86, Issue 4, , Pages 1448–1486,

Time stamps

In some podcast players, you should be able to jump to the section by clicking:

(00:01:56) – Johannes, Gladys and Richard introduce themselves

(00:03:19) – Johannes explains what Malengo does and how his academic research inspired him to found an organization facilitating international educational migration

(00:10:27) – Gladys shares why she applied to study with Malengo

(00:14:19) – Richard shares why he decided to fund work related to international educational migration, inspired by reading academic papers on development economics

(00:17:07) – Richard elaborates on how Johannes’ academic credentials and track record as high agency person convinced him to support Malengo’s work

(00:19:47) Richard on giving vs impact investing – the investor’s perspective

(00:22:10) Richard on the process of jointly setting up a legal structure for impact investing with Johannes

(00:25:36) Johannes on seeking donations vs seeking investments – the founder’s perspective

(00:27:23) Johannes on Richard providing more than just money: expertise and patience

(00:28:31) A structure that can now be deployed at scale

(00:30:37) Gladys on what she would have done if she hadn’t studied with Malengo

(00:31:20) Johannes on the expected impact on student’s income and the independent research accompanying Malengo’s work

(00:34:08) Gladys on sending money back home

(00:35:46) Johannes on the income-share agreements

(00:39:15) Gladys on her motivation to pay it forward

(00:40:22) Johannes on why he isn’t worried about brain drain

(00:43:28) Gladys on inspiring other students

(00:44:43) Richard on the academic papers that influenced his thinking on what works and what doesn’t in development economics

(00:48:27) Richard on how “this one little thing that he’s very good at”, “this little finance thing”, can empower others

(00:50:27) Gladys on her role as a mentor for the next Malengo cohorts

(00:52:19) Richard’s deep dive into how he thinks about his investments into Malengo from a financial perspective (protection from inflation, assumptions for alpha outperformance, diversification from the rest of his portfolio from a market risk perspective)

(00:59:36) Johannes on the impact evaluations embedded in Malengo’s work and the endeavor to also uncover whether there are negative effects

(01:03:06) Gladys on how leaving home felt for her

(01:07:08) Johannes on the role of philanthropy, impact investing and effective altruism for Malengo

(01:09:03) Richard on hoping to inspire other impact investors to follow suit

(01:14:20) Johannes on how the political climate affects his plans to grow an organization facilitating migration

(01:15:50) Gladys on interest from her peers to follow in her footsteps

(01:16:45) Johannes on a mindset of cooperation towards other organizations in the same space

(01:19:31) Johannes, Richard and Gladys on the best ways to support Malengo’s mission