Over the past decade, the push for financial inclusion has united governments, companies, technology entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations in dozens of countries on every continent — and with remarkable success. In 2011, only 51 percent of the world’s adults had a formal bank account. By 2017, as the World Bank recently reported in its new Global Findex data, we’ve reached 69 percent — that is 1.2 billion more people who are now connected to the modern economy.
As more people in emerging markets gain access to the formal financial system — fueled by the increased penetration of the mobile phone and associated digital financial services — the pace of financial inclusion is accelerating. At this rate, we're on track to reach universal financial access by 2020, a goal set by the World Bank, which is an important success milestone. Access to basic financial services, such as a bank account, credit, and insurance, is a crucial step in improving people's social and economic outlook.
- Financial Sector
When I arrived in Tunis almost a year ago, one of my colleagues at the World Bank office tried to explain to me how the rules in effect had made it impossible to export high-quality olive oil. I found it difficult to understand what she was saying, as it seemed to me that the export of high value-added products should be a major goal for the country. However, to date, the problem persists ...
Interest rate caps can have far-reaching consequences on the composition and maturity of commercial bank loans and deposits. From both a policy and research standpoint, it is important to understand the mechanisms behind such impacts and the channels through which they affect various players in the financial sector.
While cross-country evidence suggests that interest rate caps can reduce credit availability and increase costs for low-income borrowers1, rigorous micro-evidence on the channels of impact within an economy is missing.
In a new working paper that uses bank-level panel data from Kenya, Mehnaz Safavian and I carefully examine the impact of the recently imposed interest rate caps on the country’s formal financial sector.2
In September 2016, the Kenyan Parliament passed a bill that effectively imposed a cap on interest rates charged on loans and a corresponding floor on the interest rates offered for deposit accounts by commercial banks. This new legislation was in response to the public view that lending rates in Kenya were too high, and that banks were engaging in predatory lending behavior. The interest rate caps were therefore intended to alleviate the repayment burden on borrowers and improve financial inclusion as more individuals and firms would be able to borrow at the lower repayment rates.
Meet Mohammad Naim, a saffron farmer in Afghanistan’s Herat province. In 2013, Naim launched a new business, the Taban Enterprise Group after he and his partners received training and attended agriculture fairs nationwide.
Taban cultivates, processes, and markets saffron, and since its founding, it has steadily improved the quality of its saffron and expanded operations. .
Since 2010, the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Project (AREDP) has linked rural producers with markets and helped villagers form savings and credit groups to create businesses or expand their small enterprises.
Non-farm household enterprises provide an important opportunity for employment in Tanzania. Agriculture is still the primary economic activity of the country, but the economy is shifting away from it and the number of people employed in this sector has been declining since 2006. At the same time, nearly 850,000 individuals a year enter the labor market seeking gainful employment and non-farm household enterprises are growing rapidly. Across the country, 65.9% of households reported household enterprises as a primary or secondary employment.
Due to the growing importance of non-farm household enterprises, our team conducted a study to understand why household enterprises are not growing and what their major constraints are to productivity gains.
The program, led by the German government, led to the formation of a women’s cooperative that bids for commercial contracts in schools, mosques, and government agencies.
A short documentary film produced for Al Jazeera showcases how these women are not only challenging stereotypes by thriving in the male-dominated profession of plumbing, but also implementing a range of water management techniques for their communities.
Trained women receive toolboxes and funding for outreach to disseminate information within their community and reach at least 20-25 other women.
The film was just awarded the Women Entrepreneurs Journalism Award, sponsored by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), as part of the 2018 One World Media Awards. The award covers broadcast, digital, film or print journalism that explores women’s entrepreneurship in developing countries. Reporting can showcase stories of successful female entrepreneurs, the challenges women face in trying to start or grow their businesses, and/or the critical role that women entrepreneurs play in economic development by boosting growth and creating jobs.
This initiative is supported by the World Bank’s Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) with financing from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Korea and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland.
Scaling local data and synergies with official statistics
The themes for this year’s call for proposals are scaling local data for impact, which aims to target innovations that have an established proof of concept which benefits local decision-making, and fostering synergies between the communities of non-official data and official statistics, which looks for collaborations that take advantage of the relative strengths and responsibilities of official (i.e. governmental) and non-official (e.g.,private sector, civil society, social enterprises and academia) actors in the data ecosystem.
- Urban Development
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Migration and Remittances
- Law and Regulation
- Labor and Social Protection
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Global Economy
- Financial Sector
- Climate Change
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- The World Region
- South Asia
- Middle East and North Africa
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Europe and Central Asia
- East Asia and Pacific