Innovation for Adaptation: How a New Fund Is Helping Service Providers Navigate the Challenges of COVID-19
The impact of COVID-19 has been amplified at the local level in Kenya and Rwanda, where non-profit service providers working with vulnerable populations are finding it more difficult to support their beneficiaries. Michael Kiema and Linda Ndungu Wambua at Instiglio explore learnings from the COVID-19 Adaptation Fund, which is providing funding to nine qualifying service providers to help them implement innovations that will support their efforts to serve beneficiaries during the pandemic.
A Tentative Recovery: Survey Data Shows Signs of Progress – and Warnings of Future Distress – Among Kenyan Farmers During COVID-19
It’s estimated that over 50 million people are in need of immediate food assistance in the Horn, East and Central Africa. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into 2021, Kenyan farmers’ ability to weather this crisis is at the heart of the region’s recovery, say Venu Aggarwal and Kelsey Jarrett at 60 Decibels. They share data 60 Decibels has collected from thousands of Kenyan farmers, revealing both slight improvements since the early days of the crisis, and the danger of more severe, longer-term financial distress.
Ensuring That Women’s Financial Access Is Not Another Casualty of COVID-19: The Value of Agent Banking
As COVID-19 continues to ravage global economies, the existing gender-poverty gap is set to widen: UN Women projects that for every 100 men aged 25-34 in extreme poverty due to the pandemic, 118 women of the same age will be living in extreme poverty this year. Peris Mburu at FSD Africa explores why agent banking is a promising solution to this growing challenge – and how its benefits can extend beyond access to finance.
The Public Option: How Smart Tariff Subsidies Can Boost Minigrids and Solve Africa’s Rural Energy Access Dilemma
The World Bank estimates that minigrids can provide electricity for up to 500 million people by 2030, and that the cost of minigrid electricity per kilowatt hour will decrease by two thirds in the same period. But as Daniel Kitwa at the Africa Minigrid Developers Association points out, these goals can only be realized through effective public policy, scale and innovation. He explains why a smartly designed subsidy program to reduce the cost of minigrid power for rural customers is the critical missing piece in these efforts.
Financial Inclusion During – and After – COVID-19: Three Takeaways From a (Very Different) European Microfinance Week 2020
The 2020 European Microfinance Week encapsulated much about the financial inclusion sector – the good, the bad and the simply confusing – as it navigated the historic challenges of the past year. Sam Mendelson at e-MFP shares three broad takeaways from the event, representing three key priorities for the inclusive finance industry as it seeks to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis – without overlooking other essential priorities.
2020 MOST INFLUENTIAL ARTICLE CANDIDATE: COVID-19’s Impact on Indian Agriculture: How Data Should Drive Future Policies
The Indian agricultural economy is made up of complex market linkages connecting approximately 263 million agricultural workers to over 1 billion consumers. When COVID-19 locked down the economy, many feared the sector would be crippled, yet these networks seemed remarkably robust – at least at first. However, analysts at IDinsight share data suggesting that agricultural markets may not be as healthy as market figures suggest, and explore policy prescriptions that could strengthen the sector in the long term.
2020 MOST INFLUENTIAL ARTICLE CANDIDATE: Taking Cold Chains Off-Grid: How Solar Powered Cold Rooms Could Dramatically Reduce Food Waste in Sub-Saharan Africa
In sub-Saharan Africa, up to 50% of produce perishes before reaching end customers, largely due to a lack of viable cold chain solutions. Maria Knodt at Energy 4 Impact and Ruth Kimani at CLASP explore how solar-powered cold rooms can address this issue, and highlight some significant technical and business model challenges that could undermine their impact.
2020 MOST INFLUENTIAL ARTICLE CANDIDATE: Businesses Behaving Badly: The Troubling Parallels Between Microfinance and Facebook
Chuck Waterfield left microfinance five years ago, after working in the sector for three decades. He stopped using Facebook three years ago, after using the platform for about 10 years. As he explains, he left them both for a similar reason: Their business models have grown increasingly problematic over time – and without external intervention, things are likely to get worse.