Ideas to Action:

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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

smiling woman at sewing machine

Helping Poor Women Grow Their Businesses with Mobile Savings, Training, and Something More?

Growing a business is not easy, and for women firm owners the challenges can be acute, especially when they are poor and run subsistence level firms. In developing countries, 22 percent of women discontinue their established businesses due to a lack of funds, and women are more likely than men to report exiting their businesses over finance problems, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Meanwhile, personal savings are a crucial source of entrepreneurial financing, and nearly 95 percent of entrepreneurs globally state that they used their own funds to start or scale up their businesses. Women, however, face unique constraints in accumulating savings to invest in growing their firms.

A seamstress in Accra, Ghana. Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/imagesofempowerment.com

Empowering Women, Changing Mindsets: A Conversation on Technology and Financial Training

Eight years and millions of mobile financial transactions later, we came together again at a private CGD roundtable in London to discuss the potential of mobile banking and savings for women’s economic empowerment. We were pleased to hear the richness of research evidence and interventions on women’s financial inclusion that have emerged over the past decade. What follows are some takeaways from our deliberations, informed by this research and practice.

M-Pawa increased women’s happiness and optimism, business training had no additional significant effect (% of study participants answering ‘yes’)

The Clock is Ticking on Financial Inclusion and a Focus on Women Can Help

A sense of urgency was present at a recent World Bank Spring meeting on financial inclusion. This is not surprising, given the Bank’s ambitious goal of Universal Financial Access by 2020. Two years to go and globally about 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked—close to 1 billion of them are women. It’s clear that to meet this goal, we all must focus our efforts on women.

Are Biometric ID Systems Good for Women?

Can biometric IDs encourage women’s financial inclusion and economic and social empowerment? In principle, the answer should be yes. But the potential impact is limited by a range of other impediments that limit women’s participation.

Mindful Saving in Tanzania: Strategies Women Use

The entrepreneur is a 59-year-old widow in the city of Mbeya, Tanzania. She has a covered dark corner space in an open market where she sells soft drinks during the day, adds beer in the evenings, and also sells prepared meals in an adjacent space. She recently took a 6-week long business training course from TechnoServe, which included instruction on how to access M-Pawa, a new Vodaphone mobile savings platform. This should allow her to gain better control of her income and invest in her business.

Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment: What the Next US Administration Should Do

The Obama administration has taken some important steps to put women’s economic empowerment at the center of US foreign and development policy, but there’s still plenty of work left to do. Researchers and advocates alike have made the case for why gender equality—and specifically women’s economic empowerment—is critical for achieving economic growth, eradicating extreme poverty, and improving the health, education, and well-being of people worldwide. This blog post turns to concrete ways that the next US administration can promote women’s economic empowerment, thereby maximizing the impact of its development agenda.

CGD at Women Deliver 2016

Five thousand researchers, practitioners, advocates and others are descending on Copenhagen for Women Deliver, the largest conference focused on the health, rights, and well-being of women and girls. Much of what will be discussed aligns with CGD’s own work through our global health policy and gender and development programs, so we’re pleased to be attending and below, we’re pleased to share with you a few of the conference areas where we can add our voice. 

Gender and Financial Inclusion: With a Nudge and a Twist

At a CGD event on financial inclusion, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde noted that financial inclusion is a priority for the post-2015 development agenda as a whole. Here we explore both the benefits of financial inclusion and some concrete steps for achieving it,  specifically looking at ways to overcome a persistent gender gap that leaves women with less access to financial services than men.