As an open forum for emerging markets business, NextBillion publishes around 150 original, guest-written articles per year, covering enterprises, innovations, challenges and opportunities across multiple sectors and geographies. Each December we select the 12 most-read articles of the past year to include in our "Most Influential Article of the Year" contest. We invite you to vote for the article that impacted you the most in 2021. You can vote up to one time per hour during the two-week voting period, which runs from Dec. 20 to Jan. 2.
- Agriculture, Coronavirus, Energy, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Impact Assessment, Investing, NextBillion Originals, Technology
Universal Energy Access is Within Reach — If the Sector Survives COVID-19: Here’s How Funders Can Help
Before COVID-19 struck, the energy access sector was booming, delivering renewable power to 470 million people, creating 370,000 jobs and avoiding 74 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade. But as Sarah Bieber at Acumen and Henry Gonzalez at Green Climate Fund point out, the pandemic has put that progress at risk, as dwindling investment, decreased customer income and dramatic price increases have created a crisis for energy access companies. They explore how funders can help get the sector back on track.
Scale Is Overrated: Why the ‘Unicorn Industrial Complex’ is Holding Back Social Enterprise and Emerging Markets Business
Social enterprises and small and growing businesses (SGBs) are the focus of a lot of discussion and excitement in the development sector, as seen in recent SGB coverage on NextBillion and other publications. But Jack Foreman at Foresee Advisors argues that this discussion ignores the needs – and essential natures – of the vast majority of these businesses, particularly in emerging markets. He explains why the focus on scale – and investors' search for the next potential "unicorn" startup – overlook the crucial importance of SMEs that are content to remain small or medium-sized.
The Systemic Reasons Behind the SGB Investment Gap: Why Investors Need Systems Data in Emerging Markets
Despite over-performing returns, venture capital investment in emerging markets accounts for only about 10% of total VC capital invested, and a significant financing gap remains for small and growing businesses (SGBs) in these environments. Jason Eaves at Discovered Markets presents several multifaceted reasons for this gap, and presents an unexploited solution: using systems data to overcome the biases and lack of market visibility that limit both investors' and other organizations' ability to effectively support SGBs in these markets.
Solutions to the Care Crisis: How Social Enterprises and Impact Investing Can Transform the Care Economy
The care economy – i.e., paid and unpaid care provided to children, the elderly, and those with illnesses or disabilities – is central to our society’s well-being and to the broader economy. But according to analysts at IDRC, E. T. Jackson and Associates Ltd., and the Soros Economic Development Fund, COVID-19 has worsened the challenges facing these primarily female workers. They explore some innovative market-based solutions to these issues, and discuss how impact investors and other stakeholders can better support care workers, particularly in the Global South.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted the grim trendlines of global warming – a problem that, if left unchecked, will have a catastrophic impact on the planet. But as Bonnie Foley-Wong at Pique Ventures explains, the financial impacts of climate change have already begun, and investors – whether as individuals or institutions – can play a key role in developing and scaling solutions. She highlights seven areas and themes that investors can focus on to help build a planet where future generations can thrive.
Avoiding the Great Divergence: How Community Investment Trusts Could Help Developing Countries Recover from COVID-19 and Achieve the SDGs
As the global economy gradually recovers from COVID-19, some fear the world is heading towards a “Great Divergence,” in which the recovery gathers momentum in richer countries while leaving developing countries behind. To avoid this outcome, emerging economies will need a surge of investment. To that end, Norman A. Bailey at The City University of New York and Alfred Watkins at the Global Solutions Summit explore why Community Investment Trusts provide an innovative model to finance pandemic recovery while building a foundation for sustainable growth.
The Democratization of Sustainable Investing: Navigating the New World of Impact Options for Retail Investors in the U.S.
As impact and ESG investing have gained momentum, they have attracted the attention of retail investors, resulting in a bewildering array of new funds and products available to the general public. But as Lana Khabarova at SustainFi explains, the quality of these products varies widely, and some may not be as "sustainable" as they seem. She highlights several sustainable investing options available to retail investors in the U.S., providing information that can help investors choose the right products and strategies to achieve their financial and impact goals.