And the Winners of NextBillion’s Most Influential Article of 2019 Contest Are …
Tough questions and tougher answers: NextBillion’s most influential articles of 2019 highlighted both challenges and opportunities in emerging markets business. The winning articles, as rated by NextBillion readers, confronted some particularly challenging issues, and the potential futures they portend. Please check out our summaries of each of these articles below – and of course, read the full pieces themselves if you haven’t already had a chance.
Thank you to the hundreds of readers who cast their ballots during the holiday period – and especially to the guest writers who shared their insights in these articles (and in the hundreds of others we published last year). NextBillion will kick off 2020 with original content beginning tomorrow. Until then, congratulations to these influential contributors!
First Place (31% of the vote)
IS FINANCIAL INCLUSION REALLY A KEY TO ACHIEVING THE SDGS?
There’s growing discussion about how financial inclusion can advance the Sustainable Development Goals – including in an optimistic NextBillion article from Leora Klapper at the World Bank last February. But according to Liz Larson at UNCDF and Daryl Collins at BFA, the evidence of a link between financial tools and development impacts has not been conclusive. In “Is Financial Inclusion Really Impacting the SDGs? This New Research Approach Could Offer an Answer,” a response to Klapper’s piece, they discuss a new measurement framework that aims to take account of the breadth of all potential and proven connections between financial services and the SDGs – while also offering a method for substantiating those impacts.
Second Place (14% of the vote)
A PIVOTAL CHOICE FOR PAYGO SOLAR: PLEASE INVESTORS OR PROTECT CUSTOMERS?
Over $500 million in investor financing has poured into off-grid solar in the past year – but according to BrightLife CEO Stefan Grundmann, there is a downside. With PAYGo solar operators facing investor pressure to expand their reach and deliver greater sales, many have taken new measures to boost business – which has led to troubling new risks for customers. Grundmann explores this issue, and how the industry and its investors should respond to it, in “PAYGo Solar at a Crossroads: Why the Industry Must Choose Between Protecting Customers and Satisfying Investors.”
Third Place (8% of the vote)
ARE APPLIANCES THE KEY TO MINI-GRID SUSTAINABILITY?
Over 600 million Africans live without electricity, and mini-grids could be a solution. But the mini-grid business model is not yet sustainable – often due to low levels of energy consumption by rural customers who can’t afford to buy appliances that would increase their electricity usage. In “Low Energy Consumption = Unprofitable Mini-Grids. Is Appliance Financing the Answer?,” analysts at CrossBoundary present research on whether offering financing for household appliance purchases can help overcome this barrier.
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