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8 things we learned from running a challenge fund

Amal Ali's picture
Challenge funds can help harness technology for development – here, a team from the international Water Management Institute (IWMI) shows off an open source mobile weather station developed for the GFDRR/DFID Challenge Fund. © IWMI
Challenge funds can help harness technology for development – here, a team from the international Water Management Institute (IWMI) shows off an open source mobile weather station developed for the GFDRR/DFID Challenge Fund. © IWMI 

While historically confined to medical and academic research, challenge funds – competitive financing for innovative solutions to entrenched problems – have gained traction in the international development field over the last decade.
 
Pioneered by the UK Department of International Development (DFID), challenge funds have championed transformational disruptive technologies, such as M-Pesa, Kenya’s mobile money transfer service. The electronic payment system, which allows users to withdraw, deposit and transfer cash through their mobile phones, started as a pilot project funded by DFID’s Financial Deepening Challenge Fund. Today, more than two thirds of Kenyans use the channel, and the innovation has changed the scope of financial inclusion programs globally.

Putting women’s health and empowerment at the center of development

Kristalina Georgieva's picture
Also available in: Español | Français | 中文 | العربية
Registered nurses look after newborns at a maternity hospital in Freetown Sierra Leone. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank
Registered nurses look after newborns at a maternity hospital in Freetown Sierra Leone. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank


Last week on World Population Day, I was thinking of the joy of children and the right of women to decide when to have them. It matters to women, but it matters to society as a whole. There can be no sustainable development without women’s empowerment, and there can be no women’s empowerment without access to comprehensive maternal and reproductive health services. Family planning is part of them.

Where do the world’s talents immigrate to?

Bassam Sebti's picture


"We’re the nation that just had six of our scientists and researchers win Nobel Prizes—and every one of them was an immigrant," U.S. President Barack Obama recently said after the Nobel Prize winners were announced.
 
The Internet was abuzz about it, and how could it not be?
 
The announcement couldn’t come at a better time. Not only are US Nobel laureates immigrants, but also the country has been identified as one of four where the world’s high-skilled immigrants are increasingly living, according to a new World Bank research article. The other three countries are the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Bill Gates talks about ‘game-changers’ in financing development

Donna Barne's picture

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates, and UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening. © Simone McCourtie/World Bank

What would be a game-changer for achieving some of the world’s most difficult goals — such as ending poverty and hunger and making sure every child gets a quality education?

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates came to the World Bank Group Spring Meetings to answer that question in a thought-provoking conversation about how to finance development for greater impact.

Reflections from the 2015 South-South Learning Forum – Part 2

Mohamad Al-Arief's picture
Ministers, mayors, senior officials and experts from both the social protection and urban development spheres wrapped-up their intensive discussion at the 2015 South-South Learning Forum in Beijing, China. It was the first global event that looks at the emerging knowledge and practical innovations in the as-yet underexplored area of social protection in cities. Every single day, more than 180,000 people urbanize globally. Much of the world’s future depends on whether cities thrive or sink. Bank Group staff, who helped put together the Forum, share their reflections:

Reflections from the 2015 South-South Learning Forum – Part 1

Mohamad Al-Arief's picture
Ministers, mayors, senior officials and experts from both the social protection and urban development spheres wrapped-up their intensive discussion at the 2015 South-South Learning Forum in Beijing, China. It was the first global event that looks at the emerging knowledge and practical innovations in the as-yet underexplored area of social protection in cities. Every single day, more than 180,000 people urbanize globally. Much of the world’s future depends on whether cities thrive or sink. Representatives of donor countries, who helped support the Forum, share their reflections:

Leveraging Islamic finance promotes growth and prosperity of small businesses

Bertrand Badré's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | 中文 | Español
Shop owners get ready for another day of work in Cairo, Egypt. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank


From the smallest rural villages in Bangladesh to the large, bustling metropolitan centers of Cairo or Istanbul, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the lifeblood of Islamic communities around the world, keeping local economies humming.

I first became interested in the potential of leveraging Islamic finance to grow SMEs when I led a seminar on the topic in 1997. I’ve come full circle, almost 20 years later, when I had the opportunity to speak last month in Istanbul at a conference on “Leveraging Islamic Finance for SMEs” organized by the World Bank Group, the Turkish Treasury, the Islamic Development Bank and TUMSIAD, the largest association of SMEs in the country with 10,000 members.

Unleashing private investment in renewable energy

Korina Lopez's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français
Angus McCrone, Jin-Yong Cai, and Rune Bjerke discuss renewable energy. © Franz Mahr/World Bank


More than 700 million people live in extreme poverty around the world. If that number seems daunting, then consider this: 1.1 billion people – more than three times the population of the United States – live without electricity.

So it goes without saying that ending energy poverty is a key step in ending poverty itself. And world leaders agree – a sustainable development goal just for energy was adopted last month. It emphasizes the role of renewable energy in getting us to the finish line of reaching sustainable energy for all by 2030. What will give us a big boost in that race? Private financing.

Are we prepared for the next global epidemic? The public doesn't think so

Jim Yong Kim's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español | 日本語
A nurse checks the temperature of a patient at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.  © Dominic Chavez/World Bank


Too often, the conventional wisdom in diplomatic or scientific circles is that the general public doesn't know what's good for them when it comes to foreign policy or tackling global threats. It's too complicated, the experts say; the public wouldn't understand. Yet new polling suggests that many in the public understand very well how global infectious disease outbreaks pose a serious threat to their lives and economic security - and they know what should be done about it.

To Save Lives and Livelihoods, Start By Understanding Disaster Risk

Francis Ghesquiere's picture
Understanding Risk Forum 2014


In 1999, the state of Odisha, India, was hit by the most powerful tropical cyclone ever recorded in the North Indian Ocean, causing nearly 10,000 fatalities and US$5 billion in damages. For the next decade, the government of Odisha and partners worked to identify and mitigate cyclone risk. When the similarly intense Cyclone Phailin struck Odisha in October 2013, the region counted 99.6% fewer deaths.
 
We cannot prevent a monsoon or cyclone from striking ­­– and as population growth, urbanization, and climate change are on the rise, the frequency and impact of natural disasters will increase. But with innovation, collaboration and a better understanding of risk, we can build communities that are more resilient to natural hazards. 

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