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What I'm Reading this Summer

By Atul Tandon

This summer has been one marked by remarkable world events and the continuing battle against COVID-19. CEO Atul Tandon shares the top articles and books he has read so far this summer:   

Progress to eradicate global hunger is stalling

The Economist

This article is such an important reminder that despite the progress we have made, the past few years have been devastating for families in extreme poverty. In many cases, decades of improvement are now stalled—or moving in the wrong direction.

“In the past two years, the number of people who are acutely food-insecure (ie, so short of food that their lives or livelihoods are at risk) has nearly doubled from 150m to 283m.”

Discover more about Opportunity’s work supporting farmers who are, in turn, supporting their families and communities >>

In an Era of Urgent Climate Risk, Does Financial Inclusion Matter?

CGAP Leadership Essay Series

This CGAP article shares interesting thoughts on the disproportionate ways those living in poverty struggle with climate shocks and how financial inclusion can help. It’s an important reminder of the multifaceted nature of poverty, the importance of comprehensive solutions, and the role financial services can play in global progress.

“It is vital therefore that any development agenda, including financial inclusion, considers how poor and vulnerable households can build resilience and adapt to the climatic changes impacting their lives.”

Dive into Opportunity’s work to advance financial inclusion >>

How COVID-19 caused a global learning crisis


This interactive report shows data to back up what we already know intuitively: that the pandemic dramatically impacted education around the world. What I found interesting? The students with the most severe learning loss came from middle-income countries, where schools were closed for a year or more—and where technical skills and quality education are essential for economic advancement.

“Education can affect not just an individual’s future earnings and well-being but also a country’s economic growth and vitality. Research suggests higher levels of education lead to increased labor productivity and enhance an economy’s capacity for innovation. Unless the pandemic’s impact on student learning can be mitigated and students can be supported to catch up on missed learning, the global economy could experience lower GDP growth over the lifetime of this generation.”

Learn more about how Opportunity is addressing these concerns through our Education Finance programs >>

Think Again

Adam Grant

I picked up Grant’s latest book earlier this summer when the Opportunity Book Club selected it as their May read. He gave an essential challenge to all of us: to rethink assumptions and approach challenges with curiosity rather than certainty—both in our work and in life more broadly. How many disasters might we avoid if we asked more questions…of others and of ourselves?

“When we’re in scientist mode, we refuse to let our ideas become ideologies. We don’t start with answers or solutions; we lead with questions and puzzles. We don’t preach from intuition; we teach from evidence. We don’t just have healthy skepticism about other people’s arguments; we dare to disagree with our own arguments. Thinking like a scientist involves more than just reacting with an open mind. It means being actively open-minded. It requires searching for reasons why we might be wrong—not for reasons why we must be right—and revising our views based on what we learn.”

Join the Opportunity Book Club >>

The Global Findex Database 2021

World Bank

Every year, the World Bank updates its Global Findex Report, diving into key issues around financial inclusion and digital financial services. This year’s edition focuses on financial inclusion, the power and prominence of digital payments, and the remarkable resilience of so many throughout the pandemic. It’s a reminder that even while we face tremendous setbacks, the arc of progress moves forward, nonetheless.

“COVID-19 boosted the adoption of digital financial services: 40 percent of adults in developing economies excluding China who made a digital merchant payment using a card, phone, or the internet, and one-third of adults in developing economies who paid a utility bill directly from an account, did so for the first time after the start of the pandemic.” 

Explore Opportunity’s work to facilitate digital access for our clients >>

Bonus: What I'm Listening To...

The New Books in World Affairs podcast

I regularly discover book recommendations from this helpful podcast, and I enjoy hearing from authors and experts sharing their perspectives on the world. Recently, I’ve been struck by several episodes—and immediately added the discussed titles to my to-read list!


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