India's 2016 banknote demonetization sent shockwaves through the country's microfinance sector, causing MFIs to write off US$ 1.1 billion in bad loans. In response, cash-dependent MFIs stepped up investment in fintech – but now that the crisis has passed, so perhaps has their sense of urgency. Elliot Rosenberg of Awaaz.De argues that the need to embrace tech is as strong as ever.
WASH Away Inequity: Lack of Access to Safe Water is the Most Crippling Obstacle Limiting Human Potential
On World Water Day, consider that 844 million people (nearly 1 in 9) lack a drinking water source that is accessible within a 30-minute round trip from their home. But though this problem can be solved by installing a tap or rain harvesting system, the upfront cost of up to $200 is often prohibitive for people living in poverty. Water.org co-founder and CEO Gary White highlights the power of the poor, when given affordable financing, to provide their own solution to the global water crisis.
Global health funding is no longer the sole purview of local governments and international donors. Despite large contributions (nearly $8 trillion in 2013) from traditional donors, there is still a critical funding gap of $2.5 trillion annually – in developing countries alone – to achieve the U.N.'s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Fortunately, public and private actors are teaming up to close that gap. Rachel Fowler of USAID discusses some intriguing examples, including a first-of-its-kind development impact bond aiming to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Rajasthan, India.
Financial inclusion in Egypt has persistently lagged behind similar economies for decades. But the country now has all the hallmarks of a market ready to leapfrog: a young population, an enthusiastic embrace of social media, and more mobile subscriptions (110 million) than its population. Sarah Willis of MetLife Foundation and Mayada El-Zoghbi of CGAP lay out four criteria that Egypt must meet to bring meaningful financial services to its low-income communities.
- Inclusive Fintech
Less than 3 percent of impact investment funds made their way to early-stage ventures in 2017. Sachi Shenoy and Nathan Byrd of Upaya Social Ventures believe the impact investing sector must do better. After several years of investing pioneer capital in social enterprises, they offer several solutions that take advantage of a "less is more" philosophy.