COVID-19 Update – The coronavirus pandemic has had a disastrous effect on economic development.  Most families in the developing world have seen their income reduced or wiped out due to the crisis.  Compared to end-2019, average 2021 debt ratios are projected to rise by10 percent of GDP in emerging market economies, and about 7 percent in low-income-countries ( These increases come on top of debt levels that were already historically high, and will mean cuts in salaries and jobs, a negative investment climate and reduced demand for products and services. The crisis exacerbates existing inequalities: women are twice as likely to have lost their jobs than men ( ).  Yet microfinance and graduation programs have shown impressive resilience, with programs for the very poor set for expansion with the Partnership for Economic Inclusion.

Economic Opportunity

Ending acute poverty presupposes that families have access to economic opportunity.  That means fostering the right strategies for economic development  as proposed by the Partnership for Economic Inclusion as well as ensuring the Canadian government provides adequate support. Key interventions that are both demonstrated and cost-effective include microfinance  (small loans and savings to support self-employment) , microinsurance (tiny, simplified, insurance contracts that protect the health and agricultural activities of the very poor) and graduation programs (a suite interventions including asset transfer, and accompaniment in the form of coaching and training).  Many stakeholders are already implementing these innovative solutions as seen at that the Toronto 2018 Ultra-Poverty Summit.

Key Reference Documents

Economic opportunities for all

Prospects for Microfinance

The potential impact of Microinsurance

Expansion prospects for graduation and economic inclusion programs

2018 ultra-poverty summit

External Resources

Key Organizations