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Financial Sector

Women and finance: unlocking new sources of economic growth

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu's picture


From basic financial services to board rooms, strengthening women’s role in finance is one of the keys to boosting economic growth.

In every country, women and men alike need access to finance so that they can invest in their families and businesses.  But today, 42% of women worldwide – about 1.1 billion – remain outside of the formal financial system, without a bank account or other basic tools to manage their money.   
 

Foreign exchange risk: How a liquidity facility could help

Joaquim Levy's picture

© Yang Aijun/World Bank

In a guest post for Infrastructure Investor, World Bank Group CFO Joaquim Levy says multilaterals’ provision of hard-currency liquidity facilities could do much to catalyze private investment into emerging market infrastructure.

The World Bank Group is playing a leading role in thinking through better approaches to infrastructure financing in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs). Part of this work entails understanding the key barriers that might impede private capital from participating more actively in EMDE projects. This is why we focus so much on developing local capital markets and other means to unlock the power of local institutional investors. It is also why we’ve been working to facilitate cross-border investment, in a time when returns in advanced economies remain low.

Digital financial inclusion: what works and what’s next

Kristalina Georgieva's picture


Over one billion women in the world do not have access to financial services. Having access to a transaction account is a first step for financial freedom and for women to take charge of their lives. 

Women are an underutilized resource in development. Not having access prevents women from having an equal footing in society. Financial inclusion can unleash enormous potential for economic development.

The World Bank’s World Development Report on gender estimated income losses due to women being excluded from the world of work at 10%-37% of GDP across all regions. Research by the World Bank Group, the IMF, the OECD, and private sector studies show that billions can be added to global GDP by advancing women's equality. 

Digital technologies are extending access to finance to millions of people, including women. This is incredibly exciting and the world is placing high stakes on digital technologies as a principal way to bring the 2 billion unbanked adults into the formal and regulated financial system.

It’s much easier today to save, make payments, access credit, and obtain insurance, all of which helps people manage day-to-day expenses, make long-term plans and handle unexpected emergencies.

In 2016, the G20 issued a report led by the World Bank Group and the People’s Bank of China – the High Level Principles for Digital Financial Inclusion - which provided eight recommendations for countries to encourage financial inclusion through digital technologies. A few weeks ago, the G20 finance ministers endorsed a follow-up report which profiles what countries have done in line with these recommendations.

Financial inclusion for displaced people yields societal and economic benefits for all

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu's picture
Also available in: Français



Sixty-five million people worldwide are displaced by conflict and war.

Developing countries host 95% of them

Displaced people need help. But so do their host communities, which face enormous sudden pressures on their infrastructure, public services and markets. These pressures have the potential to undermine political stability.

This is why international development institutions are rethinking how to approach humanitarian crises, and no longer consider humanitarian assistance and development interventions as two separate, sequential responses. We, at the World Bank, have been ramping up our support to both people and communities affected by fragility, conflict and violence as well as disaster risk, which can exacerbate instability.

Being able to provide quality financial services before, during and after periods of humanitarian crises can improve people’s resilience and help sustain livelihoods. 

Vietnam’s financial inclusion priorities: Expanding financial services and moving to a ‘non-cash’ economy

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu's picture



 Also available in: Tiếng Việt

It’s nighttime and the streets are bustling in Vietnam’s cities and towns. Buoyed by years of strong growth, the country has a burgeoning middle class with purchasing power to sustain restaurants and cafes, full and open late into the night, busy retailers and a high penetration of mobile phones – more than one per person. The economy, however, continues to run on cash and a majority of adults still don’t have formal financial services such as a basic transaction account. Moving to a “non-cash” system is a priority for the government to increase efficiency, promote business and economic development and reduce poverty including in remote rural areas where traditional financial providers have difficulty reaching.

Since 2016 the State Bank of Vietnam, the country’s central bank, has been partnering with the World Bank Group on a comprehensive approach to financial inclusion which will result in a national financial inclusion strategy. While still in development, several key elements of the strategy are clear: a focus on digital finance including shifts in government payments to digital products and platforms; providing financial services to rural and agricultural communities and ethnic minorities, where growth has lagged and poverty rates are above the national average; and strengthening consumer protection and financial education so that the next generation of consumers are prepared for a modern financial marketplace.

Que papel devem ter os bancos de desenvolvimento?

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu's picture
Also available in: English | العربية | Español | Français



Em todo o mundo, bancos de desenvolvimento estão avaliando sua atuação e observando onde esses esforços têm mais impacto. O tema foi objeto de uma reunião organizada pelo Banco Mundial e pelo Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES).

Os bancos de desenvolvimento se tornam peças cada vez mais fundamentais à medida que o mundo busca angariar os recursos necessários para atingir os Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável. Esses bancos podem ajudar a atrair o setor privado e solidificar as parcerias entre os setores público e privado, principalmente em matéria de financiamento de infraestrutura.

No entanto, o uso abusivo de bancos de desenvolvimento pode gerar riscos fiscais e distorções no mercado de crédito. Para evitar essas armadilhas, os bancos de desenvolvimento precisam de uma missão bem definida e devem operar sem influência política, concentrar-se no combate às grandes falhas de mercado, focar as áreas onde o setor privado não atua, monitorar e avaliar intervenções e realizar os ajustes necessários para garantir o impacto almejado. Também precisam ser transparentes e responsáveis.

A new role for development banks?

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | Português | Français



Earlier this month, development banks from around the world took stock of where they stand and where they see their efforts having the greatest impact at a meeting organized by the World Bank and Brazil’s development bank, BNDES.

As the world struggles to find funds to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, development banks can be instrumental in narrowing that gap. They can help to crowd-in the private sector and anchor private-public sector partnerships, particularly for infrastructure financing.

However, misusing development banks can lead to fiscal risks and credit market distortions. To avoid these potential pitfalls, development banks need a well-defined mandate, operate without political influence, focus on addressing significant market failures, concentrate on areas where the private sector is not present, monitor and evaluate interventions and adjust as necessary to ensure impact, and, finally, be transparent and accountable.

Two themes characterized the discussion at the meeting: how to leverage private capital and create new markets. To support Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) finance, development banks use partial credit guarantees while letting private lenders originate, fund, and collect on credit. In markets with limited competition, development banks support the creation of an ecosystem of specialized Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) lenders to which they provide a stable funding source. 

Developing local capital markets to fund domestic long-term financing needs

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | 中文 | Français



Finance fuels economic growth and development. Yet, it is also clear that traditional funding sources – public finances, development assistance or banks loans – will not be sufficient to finance the Sustainable Development Goals.

Both developed and developing countries are turning to capital markets to find new sources of funding and to attract private sector financing, investment and expertise.

A key priority for the international development community is to unlock adequate private sector financing so that emerging market countries can meet their financing needs to fund strategic objectives, such as improving infrastructure.

We estimate that the amount of infrastructure financing covered by the private sector could be more than doubled, if countries harness the full potential of local capital markets.

At the World Bank Group, we are committed to marshal our expertise to increase the use of capital markets for investment financing. Helping countries develop government debt markets is vital to our goals of eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

Connecting pension funds with emerging market infrastructure

Joaquim Levy's picture

It might sound improbable to hear a CFO say this, but I consider one of my roles since joining the World Bank Group to be that of matchmaker. Let me explain.

As I have noted in other blogs over recent months, the world’s emerging market and developing economies—EMDEs for short—face an enormous gap in infrastructure investment. Certainly it is not the only big financing challenge that countries face as they work to reduce poverty and extend prosperity to more of their citizens. But infrastructure underpins many aspects of economic growth, getting people to jobs and schools, connecting goods to markets, reducing the isolation of the poorest areas in many countries.  And by some estimates, the sector’s funding gap is as high as a trillion dollars. 

Keep the passion

Gloria M. Grandolini's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español

Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

After spending 27 years at the World Bank, I retired at the end of January. I ended my career as Senior Director for the Finance and Markets Global Practice. My career at the Bank spanned diverse roles – from country and financial economist to equity portfolio manager in the World Bank treasury, senior advisor in the Italian executive director’s office, manager and then director leading IBRD's financial products innovation work, advisor for the first CFO and then for a managing director, to country director.

In this post, I reflect on my career and argue why it continues to be important for young people to be passionate about international development.

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