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Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems

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SEEP launches new publication on economic strengthening for the bottom billion

by on Feb 7, 2012  |  posted in Bottom Billion, Microfinance  |  0 Comments
The inclusion of the poorest people in the world – the bottom billion – in formal and informal financial systems remains an elusive goal for governments and institutions around the world. While the "tools" of the economic development sector (microfinance, value chain development, market facilitation, enterprise development, savings groups, etc.) are successfully reaching poor households and are believed to be bringing about positive changes in their economic conditions, the relevance and effectiveness of these tools for expanding the economic opportunities of those living in extreme poverty is less certain. From May 17-19, 2011, the SEEP Network’s Poverty Outreach Working Group (POWG) hosted an online discussion, or e-consultation, called "Economic-Strengthening Pathways for the Bottom Billion: Connecting the Dots” which brought together 53 expert practitioners, researchers, and policymakers through USAID’s Microlinks site. Practitioners from different economic development disciplines came together to learn from recent innovations in reaching the very poor and helping them move along an economic strengthening pathway toward increased economic self reliance and growth. By better understanding various dimensions of extreme poverty and identifying different segments within ultra-poor populations, the e-consultation participants started to lay a foundation for building a common conceptual framework that can reveal relevant entry points for different interventions and services along a pathway from extreme poverty toward economic self reliance. Today, SEEP published a paper written by POWG members and facilitators that highlights key themes of the e-consultation. These topics, which were deemed of high importance by industry leaders, will help form the learning agenda for a new SEEP / POWG initiative called STEP UP: Strengthening The Economic Potential of the Ultra Poor.  This innovative endeavor will support microfinance and enterprise development practitioners in their quest to generate, share, and replicate lessons learned to design effective, scalable economic strengthening activities for those living in extreme poverty. We would appreciate your feedback on the paper or discussion. Do you agree that the four key questions that emerged in the discussion are of the highest importance, or are there other questions that take precedence? How about the five key implementation challenges identified: scaling up, segmenting and targeting, developing indicators, improving evidence-based programming, and working at the community vs. household levels? Does this list include the most crucial challenges you face? Feel free to post your comments below or send an email to Margaret E. Richards, Jan Maes, or Nisha Singh.

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