Ending poverty is an expensive undertaking: the gap between what is needed and what is available amounts to trillions of dollars each year. That is why the private sector must be involved. Private companies create 90 percent of the jobs in developing countries, produce the goods and services people need to improve their lives, and spark the innovation that economies need to thrive. They are also an important source of financing.
Finding new ways to unlock private sector investment to tackle development challenges is at the center of the discussions at the 2018 Spring Meetings, taking place in Washington, D.C. Enabling private sector solutions to address climate change and turning the agribusiness sector into an engine of sustainable and inclusive growth are other topics on the agenda.
As countries adopt policies to reduce their greenhouse emissions, a new market is opening up for investors. IFC estimates that in just 21 developing countries there is an investment opportunity of nearly $23 million through 2030. This session convened leading business executives, financiers, and regulators to showcase practical solutions to the challenges of expanding climate-related investments.
Technology can help Africa skip traditional development stages to fast-forward economic growth, manage resources more efficiently, and bring essential services to the most vulnerable people. Tech pioneers, public sector leaders, and development partners discussed how public and private sectors can expand connectivity, how to equip Africa’s workforce with the right skills, and how to foster entrepreneurship and create a regional digital ecosystem.
How innovative partnerships between the World Bank Group, investors, and governments can lead to win-win financial solutions that help countries meet their aspirations and support sustainable and inclusive growth, while offering investors sound returns? Panelists discussed trends, opportunities, and challenges for unlocking private capital flows to support critical development projects.
Women entrepreneurs face unique hurdles to starting and growing their businesses in developing countries. They are often shut out by financial institutions and face unfavorable business and regulatory environments among other challenges. This panel discussed how technology-driven online platforms can help them as providers and users of goods, services, and capital. Participants also showcased how initiatives such as the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) are enabling women to overcome barriers.
Smallholder farmers produce most of the food consumed in developing countries but they face challenges to access finance, expertise, and markets. This leaves them vulnerable to the impact of severe weather changes and struggling to pay for basic needs. IFC and partners launched the Better Life Farming alliance to help these farmers unlock their potential and secure food supply sustainably.
Access to financial services facilitates day-to-day living and helps people and businesses plan for everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies. With less than three years left to reach the goal of Universal Financial Access by 2020, panelists discussed how to tackle remaining barriers and how technology can supercharge progress toward financial access and account usage.
The World Bank Group’s Maximizing Finance for Development (MFD) approach—which leverages private sector resources in fiscally, environmentally, and socially sustainable ways—can be a powerful tool to transform the global food system into an engine of sustainable and inclusive growth. Speakers explored the implementation of MFD in the sector and discussed how to scale-up investments.