Browse by Theme: Private Sector

In recent years there’s been a steady stream of media articles questioning the benefits of microfinance, with some critics even arguing that not only does microfinance not benefit the poor, it actually makes them poorer. How should those of us involved in supporting the access of poor people to financial services respond? Is what we are doing actually helping the poor? Is the criticism of microfinance justified? Here are some personal thoughts.

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The Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa last week (13-16 July) got rather tepid and mixed reviews. Surprisingly, for a conference on financing, the outcome document contains very few numbers, and many NGOs are unhappy about the lack of funding commitments (including CARE), lack of a commitment to a new intergovernmental tax body, and a concern about the prominence of private financing (Oxfam, CAFOD, Christian Aid).

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In September, the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be launched by the United Nations. And as with the previous Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs have placed emphasis (Goal 17) on forging “partnerships” for development. But what does this mean and entail?

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The Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa from 13 to 16 July could be a key moment to build a framework for financing the work needed to eradicate poverty by 2030, and so build confidence for the effective pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals and for a fair and ambitious climate agreement.

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At a session on financial inclusion at the European Development Days event last month, I gave a brief talk about research that CARE and Accenture are jointly conducting on the capabilities for financial inclusion of banks in developing countries. We have now looked in some detail at 30 banks in 12 countries, and compared them to a Financial Inclusion Maturity Model which we have developed. We will be publishing a summary of our research later this summer – but our first high level findings should be ringing alarm bells for banks in developing countries.

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Page updated 4 June 2015: read below the live updates from CARE’s European Development Day 2015 event in Brussels.

The event included an overview from facilitator Louise James (Global Programs Director, Accenture Development Partnerships), who introduced new research by CARE and Accenture which uncovers key trends in the role of banks in furthering financial inclusion in developing countries, with a particular emphasis on women living in poverty.

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The real challenge for the new Sustainable Development Goals is what happens after they are agreed. Deciding on the goals and targets is only the first step; backing them up with the commitment to implement them is crucial. The emerging consensus between the private sector, civil society, governments and multilateral agencies on the need for progress on economically empowering women is a positive sign. But how can business help make this ambition a reality?

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