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Showing posts for "Economic Growth"

The Role of Government in Agriculture

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
A farmer harvests tobacco in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo). A farmer harvests tobacco in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo).

Emerging Voices features contributions from scholars and practitioners highlighting new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges. This article is by Evan Axelrad, a recent graduate of the Master of Public Policy program at University of California Berkeley and former program specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service. He has also consulted with organizations including the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Kiva Microfunds.

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Segovia: A New Player in Cash Transfers

by Isobel Coleman
Customers are seen at mobile money transfers kiosks, known as M-Pesa agents, near Ngong township in the outskirts of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 15, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya). Customers are seen at mobile money transfers kiosks, known as M-Pesa agents, near Ngong township in the outskirts of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 15, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya).

For several years now I’ve been following the progress of an innovative new philanthropy: GiveDirectly. Its cofounders, Michael Faye and Paul Niehaus, started the organization in 2008 while doing their PhD’s in economics at Harvard. Their idea was simple. Given mounting evidence that cash transfers are among the most efficient and effective ways to address poverty (and that the poor know very well what to do with money), why not start a charity that skips the rigmarole of providing services to poor people in poor countries and just gives them cash?

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World Bank Report on Women’s Empowerment Breaks New Ground

by Isobel Coleman
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman participate in an event on empowering woman and girls at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst). Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman participate in an event on empowering woman and girls at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Over the past several decades, the World Bank has been an important thought leader on the value of investing in women and girls. In 2001, the Bank released a seminal report, “Engendering Development – Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice,” which made the incontrovertible case that investing in girls’ education and other aspects of female empowerment is critical for poverty alleviation. More recently, in 2012, the Bank devoted its annual World Development Report to women and girls, highlighting that, despite gains, gender gaps persist and greater gender equality is critical to growth.

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Empowering Female Entrepreneurs in Rwanda

by Guest Blogger for Terra Lawson-Remer
Artisan entrepreneurs receive business training from Indego Africa at their cooperative, Covanya, in Nyamata, Rwanda, 2011 (Courtesy Benjamin D. Stone, copyright Indego Africa). Artisan entrepreneurs receive business training from Indego Africa at their cooperative, Covanya, in Nyamata, Rwanda, 2011 (Courtesy Benjamin D. Stone, copyright Indego Africa).

Emerging Voices features contributions from scholars and practitioners highlighting new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges. This article is from Benjamin D. Stone, director of strategy and general counsel at MicroCredit Enterprises, CFR term member, and vice chairman of Indego Africa; and Karen Yelick, CEO of Indego Africa. Here they discuss how Indego Africa’s Leadership Academy for female artisan entrepreneurs in Rwanda aligns with the country’s twenty-year history of empowering women leaders.

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Expanding Financial Access and Education

by Isobel Coleman
A man dressed in traditional attire speaks on a cell phone in Ludzidzini, Swaziland, August 2010 (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko). A man dressed in traditional attire speaks on a cell phone in Ludzidzini, Swaziland, August 2010 (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko).

For several decades, the exciting promise of microfinance has been to provide the world’s poorest with access to financial services. But along the way, microfinance has too often become conflated with micro-credit. This is not surprising, given that most of the first microfinance institutions (MFIs) were non-profit organizations that took grants from donors and recycled them as loans. Now, however, many MFIs have reincorporated as banks with the ability to accept savings, and the full promise of microfinance is beginning to be realized. Read more »

Emerging Voices: Closing the Gender Gap in Financing

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
A woman from the Amazon region weaves a textile in Lima, Peru, July 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Enrique Castro-Mendivil). A woman from the Amazon region weaves a textile in Lima, Peru, July 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Enrique Castro-Mendivil).

Emerging Voices features contributions from scholars and practitioners highlighting new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges. This article is from Henriette Kolb, head of Gender Secretariat at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector financing arm of the World Bank. Here she discusses how to address the gender gap in access to financing.

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Child Marriage and Religion

by Rachel Vogelstein
Ahmed Soboh, age 15, stands next to his bride Tala, age 14, inside Tala's house in the town of Beit Lahiya, near the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip. Ahmed works with his father as a road cleaner earning $5 per day. September 24, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohammed Salem). Ahmed Soboh, age 15, stands next to his bride Tala, age 14, inside Tala's house in the town of Beit Lahiya, near the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip. Ahmed works with his father as a road cleaner earning $5 per day. September 24, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohammed Salem).

Last month, academics, advocates, and religious leaders gathered at an event organized by the Council on Foreign Relations during the American Academy of Religion conference to discuss the relationship between religion and child marriage.

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Banking on Growth

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
A seller sits near a stand of bananas in Lima, Peru, June 2010 (Courtesy Reuters/Mariana Bazo). A seller sits near a stand of bananas in Lima, Peru, June 2010 (Courtesy Reuters/Mariana Bazo).

I recently wrote a memo titled “Banking on Growth: U.S. Support for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Least-Developed Countries,” which argues that it is in the United States’ interest to invest in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the world’s toughest and poorest economies. Investing in such businesses has diplomatic and financial dividends: it would spur economic development, accelerate progress towards international health and education development goals, and boost stability in fragile economies — all of which furthers U.S. foreign policy goals.

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The Benefits of No-Strings-Attached Cash

by Isobel Coleman
A man uses the M-PESA mobile banking system in Nairobi, Kenya, May 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Noor Khamis). A man uses the M-PESA mobile banking system in Nairobi, Kenya, May 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Noor Khamis).

What if I suggested that the best way to fight poverty is simply to give money to poor people, no strings attached? You’d probably say I was crazy. Just dropping cash on the world’s poorest might result in a temporary improvement in their quality of life, but only until the money runs out and then they would be back where they started. Or maybe you’d be skeptical of even that short-term improvement, since you’d think the lucky recipients would just blow the money on guilty pleasures like alcohol, tobacco, or worse.

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Women, Business, and the Bottom Line

by Rachel Vogelstein
A shopkeeper arranges her bottles of perfumes and oil in Belem, Brazil, January 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Paulo Santos). A shopkeeper arranges her bottles of perfumes and oil in Belem, Brazil, January 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Paulo Santos).

A growing body of evidence supports the proposition that women can boost economic growth. Research suggests that increasing female labor force participation would raise GDP in the United States by 5 percent, in Japan by 9 percent, in the United Arab Emirates by 12 percent, and in Egypt by 34 percent. One estimate proposes that narrowing the gender gap in employment in several APEC economies, including China, Russia, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines, could lead to a 14 percent rise in per capita incomes by 2020.

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