Achieving an Equitable COVID-19 Recovery Through Safe Housing: Why it’s Time for Financial Institutions to Step Up
Over 1.5 billion people around the world live in crowded housing with limited sanitary amenities — and during COVID-19, these households are at a particularly high risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Patrick McAllister explains how private-sector financial institutions can play a critical role in achieving equitable social and economic COVID-19 recovery by supporting home-related financing for low-income essential workers.
Creating Sustainable Last-Mile Distribution for Beneficial Products: Two Network Archetypes (and How They Can Scale Up)
Last-mile distributors (LMDs) are critical to getting beneficial goods to underserved populations in hard-to-reach areas. Lucie Klarsfeld McGrath of Hystra and the Global Distributors Collective shares the results of a detailed analysis of these crucial distributors, which fall into two archetypes: local livelihood LMDs and dedicated salesforce LMDs. She explains the characteristics of each group and discusses what they bring to manufacturers, service providers, funders and other organizations looking to work at the last mile.
Better Loans for Better Homes: A New Assessment Tool Helps Microfinance Institutions Increase Their Housing Impact
Most housing in developing countries is self-built and incremental, and these homeowners frequently turn to microfinance institutions (MFIs) to finance it. But according to Naeem Razwani and Jitendra Balanirom of Habitat for Humanity’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter and Olivia Nielsen of Miyamoto International, this type of construction process can lead to severe quality and structural issues – while also increasing the lending risk for MFIs. They discuss how a new assessment tool can help these lenders understand and optimize the impact of their home loans to better meet the needs of this market.
‘Back in the U.S.S.D.’: Most Smartphone Owners—Especially Women—Don’t Use Apps for Financial Services
The global transition from basic mobile phones to smartphones has impacted nearly every sector, including financial services. Bryan Pon from Caribou Data considers whether this shift will help or hinder access to mobile money and digital finance for women in emerging markets — a group already less likely to be using these services. He shares the findings of a comprehensive study on how payment system design could impact gender bias in digital finance, and discusses the ongoing popularity — and under-recognized advantages — of old-fashioned USSD codes in mobile money.
An Ironic Impact of COVID-19: Will the Pandemic Put Digital Health (Finally) on the Path to Reducing Health Inequalities at Scale in Emerging Markets?
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a digital health revolution, and Michal Matul and Niti Pall at AXA Emerging Customers say these shifts could help close the healthcare access gap in emerging markets. Based on AXA's work bundling digital health services into its inclusive insurance products across nine countries, they share key lessons on how telemedicine can sustain this momentum and become a viable option for eliminating health inequalities over the long term.
In the Race for Dominance in African Fintech, Partnerships With Phone Makers Are Transforming the Landscape
Corporate partnerships and acquisitions have proliferated in Africa's fintech sector in recent years, as companies fight for dominance in the growing digital payment space. Digital economy analyst Jill Lagos Shemin highlights an emerging element of this trend: alliances between mobile phone makers and payment providers and telecom operators. She explores how these partnerships can boost customer access to smartphones and digital credit, while expanding Africa's digital finance ecosystem and building tech players' footprint in this sought-after market.
Activating a Network of 4 Million: Community Health Workers are Key to Fighting COVID-19 – Here’s How They Can Accelerate Financial Inclusion
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the role of community health workers. According to Tanjila Mazumder Drishti, Khondokar Anwar Shadat and Raiya Kishwar Ashraf at BRAC, it has also demonstrated their potential as proponents of financial access — for themselves and the families they serve. They explore a BRAC initiative to enroll its 50,000 health workers in Bangladesh in mobile money, and share how this scalable model could have enormous implications for global financial inclusion.
Transforming Microcredit After COVID-19: Why ‘Building Back Better’ Will Require a Radical Reboot of Local Financial Systems in the Global South
Microcredit advocates have expressed the expectation that the industry can play a major role in economic and social recovery in the Global South after the COVID-19 pandemic. But economist Milford Bateman argues that shifting these micro-lending programs into community-owned financial institutions would make a more substantial impact. He shares a roadmap for empowering community-focused economies, and explores how a plan modeled after elements of the U.S.'s New Deal could transform local finance.