On Friday October 1st, 2021 at 12:00 pm, the Center for International Development continued its Speaker Series with Dianne Calvi, President and CEO of Village Enterprise. Calvi’s presentation was entitled “Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Evidence to Drive Poverty Alleviation” and outlined three key approaches to poverty alleviation: micro-loans, cash transfers, and poverty graduation programs. This event was moderated by CID Student Ambassador Sarah Deonarain. 

Calvi centers her presentation around a universal question: Is it possible to end extreme poverty? While the data on this question, which is the fundamental basis of the first Sustainable Development Goal, looked promising in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has compromised our ability to meet this goal by 2030 if no significant action is taken. 

To effectively address this issue, Calvi evaluates the evidence supporting three different poverty alleviation programs:

  • While micro-loans did produce some increase in small business ownership and business activity, RCTs of micro-loan programs did not show substantial increases in income, investments in education, or women’s empowerment.
  • Cash transfer programs produced mixed conclusions amongst studies, with impact on household consumption and poverty reduction only occurring in the short term, if at all.
  • The final approach, poverty graduation, is where Village Enterprise has chosen to dedicate its time and resources. Poverty graduation targets multiple poverty traps by providing training, mentoring, digital tools, and access to savings groups and financial institutions in addition to a cash transfer. Using innovations like digital technology, impact bonds, and a group-based approach ensures that this comprehensive model is scalable and cost-effective. RCTs conducted in seven unique settings prove the impact of this model, with demonstrable improvements in multidimensional poverty alleviation, not just increases in income. The entrepreneurial capacity developed through the graduation program allows program participants to improve their economic outcomes in the long run, securing sustainability. 

The Center for International Development Speaker Series continues on October 15th, 2021 at 12:15 pm with Andrew Stern, Founder and CEO of Global Development Incubator (GDI) who will discuss creating impact at a global scale for development. This event will be moderated by Brian Trelstad, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Register here


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