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Panelists on the stage at the CGD Event 'Empowering Ultra-Poor Women: Learning from Graduation Approaches.' Photo by Kaveh Sardari.

What Does it Take to Empower Ultra-Poor Women?

There is no more urgent and fundamental problem in development than finding effective ways to help the ultra-poor improve their economic and social condition. But most interventions don’t reach the poorest of the poor. A stellar panel cohosted by CGD and Women for Women International recently came together to discuss the challenges in addressing the needs of the poorest women and to explore how graduation programs perform in addressing them. Here are some key takeaways from the discussion.

Helping Women Entrepreneurs: Worth the Effort, but Complicated

A consistent but perhaps unsurprising theme of CGD’s September 7 panel discussion, "Women Entrepreneurs: What Really Helps Them Start and Grow Businesses?" was that neither the challenges nor the solutions are simple. Access to finance—frequently emphasized—is not the only issue. And even within access to finance, it is important to look at both supply and demand, at both debt and equity, and at the behavior and attitudes of loan officers as well as bank managers.

The G20 Bets on Women Entrepreneurs

The Women's Entrepreneurship Facility (We-Fi) announced at the G20 Summit stands out as a tangible initiative to help address a significant, but often ignored, constraint to growth and job creation—the wide global gender gap in starting and growing businesses. It is telling that, at a time when growth and inequality are core economic concerns, G20 countries have chosen to place an important bet on women entrepreneurs.