Madame Ngetsi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of thousands of women in the world who—despite their talent, drive, and potential to contribute to the economic development of their countries—may never be able to fulfill their dreams of starting their own businesses. Their dreams may be dashed because of outdated legislation that reproduces debilitating gender roles.
If she were a man in the DRC, Madame Ngetsi’s initial steps in starting her business would be to obtain a certificate confirming the headquarters location, notarize the articles of association, and register with the Commercial Registry. As a woman, however, a significant roadblock stands in her way: She is legally mandated to first obtain her husband’s permission to register a business. This legal requirement, found in the family code rather than in any commercial or business code, is fully in effect in the DRC. Permission letters are readily found on file at women-owned company registries. Married men face no such requirement.
Alex Cobham and Andy Sumner bring us up to date on the techie-but-important debate over how to measure inequality
It’s about six months since we triggered a good wonk-tastic discussion here on Duncan’s blog on how to measure inequality. We proposed a new indicator and called it ‘the Palma’ after Chilean economist Gabriel Palma, on whose work it was based. We suggested the Palma would complement, or perhaps even replace the (in our view) less useful Gini index. Here we bring things up to date with a look at inequality in the post-2015 debate, and present some further findings on the relative merits of Gini and Palma, based on our new paper.
First, post-2015 and all that.
Last week the Center for Global Development held an event in Washington DC to discuss the best income inequality measures for post-2015, with both a technical panel (video) comparing alternative measures, including the median, the Palma, the Commitment to Equity indicator and a multidimensional approach.
There was also a ‘user’ panel (video) with wonks from the IADB, IMF, Oxfam, UNICEF and the World Bank, discussing the policy need and the scope for implementation. While panelists and other participants did not agree on the idea of a post-2015 inequality goal or target (surprise, surprise), there was near unanimity on the importance of measuring income inequality, and doing so better than we do now.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Malala Wows Us...Again
“She was shot point blank by the Taliban simply for wanting to go to school, but Malala Yousufzai still believes that she is the “luckiest,” the ardent activist told a crowd at the Mashable Social Good Summit on Monday.
Joined by her father, Shiza Shahid, CEO of the Malala Fund, and Elizabeth Gore, resident entrepreneur at the UN Foundation, Malala shared how she’s grown since she was attacked by the terrorist organization in Pakistan 10 months ago and how her supporters have motivated her to continuing fighting for the rights of girls.” READ MORE
Ferid Belhaj of the World Bank and Robert Watkins of the United Nations discuss the impacts of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, and the need for a coordinated response to the rising social and economic costs.
Victoria has been running a small business that deals in computers and medical equipment in Dar es Salaam for about five years now. While she is making a bit of money, the business has in fact not grown to a point where she can afford an extra hand.
Compared to trends in industrial and emerging economies, small businesses like Victoria’s operating in developing countries have generally failed to become the main vectors of growth, job creation, and innovation. This failure is generally attributed to insufficient skills and financial resources in the hands of local entrepreneurs in addition to unreasonable administrative and transport costs.
Valid as these arguments might be, they also miss a crucial factor which might be instrumental in the apparent flourishing of such firms elsewhere – trust, or the lack thereof, of small firms in their operating environment.
Distrust – or lack of trust – works against the success of small businesses in many ways. It is depicted in the standard payment policy of 100 percent upfront in order to guard against the risk of not being paid after the merchandise is delivered. Such a policy is detrimental as small firms lose clients who do not always have the resources at hand given their restricted cash flow. Indeed, in the US where less than 20 percent of transactions are on a cash basis, a firm would risk losing many of its customers if it was to adopt such a policy today
A few countries across Africa are considering rather ambitious initiatives to roll out and utilize digital textbooks, a general catch-all term or metaphor which I understand in many circumstances to be ‘teaching and learning resources and materials presented in electronic and digital formats’.
How much will such initiatives cost?
Reflexively, some ministries of education (and donors!) may think this is a pretty straightforward question to answer. After all, they have been buying textbooks in printed formats for a long time, they have a good handle on what such materials traditional cost, and so they may naturally presume that they can think about the costs of ‘digital textbooks’ in pretty similar ways.
Many people are surprised to discover that calculating costs associated with the introduction and use of digital teaching and learning materials is often a non-trivial endeavor. At a basic level, how much an education system spends will depend on what it intends to do, its current capacity to support such use – and of course what it can afford. As they investigate matters more deeply (and sit through many presentations from publishers and other vendors, sometimes wowed at what is now possible and available while at the same time rather confused about what is now possible and available), education officials seeking to acquire digital teaching and learning materials for use at scale across an education system may find costing exercises to be, in reality, rather challenging and (surprisingly) complex when compared to their ‘standard’ textbook procurement practices.
Do you believe that information & communication technologies and innovation can help end poverty in your country? Share your reflections and get your voice counted by policymakers and development professionals.