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Showing posts for "Financial Inclusion"

Financial Inclusion: A New Common Ground for Central Banks

by Guest Blogger for Terra Lawson-Remer
Customers are seen at mobile money transfers kiosks, known as M-Pesa agents, near Nairobi, Kenya, July 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya). Customers are seen at mobile money transfers kiosks, known as M-Pesa agents, near Nairobi, Kenya, July 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya).

Emerging Voices features contributions from scholars and practitioners highlighting new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges. This article is from Alfred Hannig, executive director of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.

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Navigating Tensions in Social Enterprise

by Guest Blogger for Terra Lawson-Remer
Artisan entrepreneur Therese Iribagiza at Indego Africa's partner cooperative, Cocoki, in Kigali, Rwanda, 2011 (Courtesy Benjamin D. Stone, copyright Indego Africa). Artisan entrepreneur Therese Iribagiza at Indego Africa's partner cooperative, Cocoki, in Kigali, 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. Stonedirector of strategy and general counsel at MicroCredit Enterprises and vice chairman of Indego Africa. Here he discusses Indego Africa’s experiences grappling with the tension between a social enterprise’s social mission and commercial goals. 

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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 »

International Development in 2014

by Isobel Coleman
Relatives mourn as they show pictures of garment workers lost in the Rana Plaza building collapse, Savar, Bangladesh, April 28, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Andrew Biraj). Relatives mourn as they show pictures of garment workers lost in the Rana Plaza building collapse, Savar, Bangladesh, April 28, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Andrew Biraj).

Looking back at 2013, several developments stand out for their significant potential to better the lives of the world’s poorest. Here are three that will likely reverberate for years to come:

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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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POSCO vs. The People?

by Terra Lawson-Remer
A farmer collects betel leaves near POSCO India's Odisha Project site in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, February 2013 (Courtesy Reuters). A farmer collects betel leaves near POSCO India's Odisha Project site in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, February 2013 (Courtesy Reuters).

Last week, a United Nations expert panel issued a harsh report expressing concern over the construction of a $12 billion steel project in Odisha, India, financed by the South Korean steel conglomerate POSCO. The project reportedly threatens to forcibly displace over 22,000 people and disrupt the livelihoods of many thousands more. Read more »

What’s Next for Global Development?

by Terra Lawson-Remer
A UN worker rests after checking the temporary General Assembly Hall at the UN headquarters in New York, September 22, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Eduardo Munoz). A UN worker rests after checking the temporary General Assembly Hall at the UN headquarters in New York, September 22, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Eduardo Munoz).

This week, the United Nations convenes its sixty-eight General Assembly session, bringing together heads of state and other high officials from all 193 members of the UN. Although many pressing global challenges crowd the agenda of world leaders, the major theme of this year’s session is the global development agenda after 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have guided global development policy since 2000, expire. In several earlier blog posts, I discussed issues that should be considered in crafting the new development agenda. Now the international community must come together to determine what comes next.

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Boosting Businesswomen in the Bottom Billion

by Isobel Coleman
A woman at work in Nieuw Aurora, Suriname, September 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Ranu Abhelakh). A woman at work in Nieuw Aurora, Suriname, September 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Ranu Abhelakh).

Extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.25 per day, has declined significantly in recent decades. Thirty years ago, more than half of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty – today, less than a quarter do. Still, that translates into some 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty, and a disproportionate number of them are female. Overall, seventy percent of the world’s poor and about two-thirds of the world’s hungry and malnourished population are women and girls.

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Is a Start-Up Spring Coming to the Middle East?

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Young entrepreneurs at Oasis 500, a seed investment firm based in Amman, Jordan that finances start-ups in the Middle East, November 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Muhammad Hamed). Young entrepreneurs at Oasis 500, a seed investment firm based in Amman, Jordan that finances start-ups in the Middle East, November 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Muhammad Hamed).

The Middle East is seldom associated with the start-up world. When thinking of the region, few imagine entrepreneurs working away, hustling to secure funding and find customers for their fledgling businesses. But that image is increasingly a reality. Read more »

The Road Ahead: Strategies to Support Women Entrepreneurs

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
A female small scale gold miner working in Nicaragua, 2006 (Courtesy Reuters/Oswaldo Rivas). A female small scale gold miner working in Nicaragua, 2006 (Courtesy Reuters/Oswaldo Rivas).

The Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and The Economist’s Intelligence Unit recently published their inaugural Women’s Entrepreneurial Venture Scope (WEVenture Scope) report, which ranks twenty countries in Latin America and the Caribbean based on their business climate for women entrepreneurs. “Women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean are potentially one of the greatest underutilized resources in the region,” the report finds, noting that over the past twenty years, a more women in Latin America and the Caribbean have become active in the workforce, which has spurred economic growth. Read more »