January 5

NextBillion Editor

Announcing NextBillion’s Most Influential Articles of 2020

At the end of each year, NextBillion selects 12 of our most-read articles from the previous 12 months, then invites readers to vote for the piece that impacted them the most. We’ve tallied up the votes, and as 2021 begins we’re happy to announce our three most influential articles of 2020.

As usual, the articles in the contest included some of our most thought-provoking content from the past year. But though selecting the top articles from among these candidates can be a challenge, our readers invariably vote up three worthy choices – and this year is no exception.

Predictably, two of the three winners focus on COVID-19, a topic that has dominated emerging markets business analysis (and our coverage) all year. But it’s interesting – and perhaps a bit comforting – to note that COVID-focused articles fell short of a clean sweep, as our second-place winner has nothing at all to do with the pandemic. After all, coronavirus is by no means the only obstacle facing impact-focused enterprises and the investors, researchers and other stakeholders that support them. Addressing these diverse challenges remains essential, even if this work has been (understandably) overshadowed by a crisis of such historic magnitude. Though recovery from the pandemic will rightfully remain a top priority for the sector throughout 2021 and beyond, here’s hoping that by the end of the year, we’ll all have far more mental space to dedicate to other vital topics.

We’d like to thank all the guest writers who contributed articles to NextBillion last year, to congratulate the winners and other contestants in this contest, and to thank everyone who took the time to vote. Read on for a link and brief description of the winning articles – and best wishes for a safe, happy and prosperous 2021.


First Place (40% of the vote)

Fighting Extreme Poverty During COVID-19: Two Proven Ways to Build Resilience in Times of Catastrophic Disruption

COVID-19 has disrupted life for practically everyone around the world, but people living in extreme poverty are particularly affected. And some estimate that the crisis could push over 80 million more people into extreme poverty. Muhammad Musa at BRAC International discusses two programs that could reduce this impact, improving the lives of marginalized communities both during and after the pandemic.


Second Place (13% of the vote)

When Inclusion is Not Inclusive: What Needs to Change to Achieve Meaningful Financial Inclusion for Women

India has achieved impressive growth in women’s financial inclusion — recent statistics show that 79% of the country’s women are financially included. But according to Bhavana Srivastava, Akhand Jyoti Tiwari, Rahul Chatterjee and Abhishek Gupta at MicroSave (MSC), there are troubling questions about whether these women are truly benefiting from their newfound financial access. They discuss why financial inclusion often fails to impact female customers, and how viewing financial services for women through the lens of gender centrality could help.


Third Place (12% of the vote)

How to Support Entrepreneurs in the Time of Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing falling demand, mandatory store closings, labor shortages and other challenges for businesses around the world – and micro and small businesses are especially vulnerable. How can development organizations help these critical drivers of local economies? Juan Carlos Thomas and Andrea Bettosini at Technoserve provide answers to this question, based on past experience helping businesses weather socio-political upheaval in developing countries.






Coronavirus, Finance
COVID-19, financial inclusion