The challenge of international development requires a medley of ideas. At the Multilateral Investment Fund, we work in an array of topics that are at the forefront of efforts to spur the economic development of the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean. Each week, this blog "Trends" brings you our latest research and thinking. 

Our complete list of blogs can be found here.

An alternative anti-drug policy: economic resilience

By Yuri Soares

By Yuri Soares and Sandra V. Rozo

Latin America and the Caribbean is the most violent region in the world, with no fewer than five of its major cities experiencing more than 100 homicides per 100,000 people each year, according to the most recent Global Study on Homicide. While the pattern of violence varies across different regions, a significant share is linked to illegal drug activity, particularly in drug-producing countries and countries that are distribution channels to the main export markets of the United States and Europe. And as is argued in a recent op-ed by the The Brookings Institution, the recent push to legalize the market of marijuana—particularly in the United States—should not be viewed as a panacea for the prevention of drug-related violence. 

Can we invest intelligently in microfinance?

By Yuri Soares

Microfinance has grown from an outfit financed by a few donors and philanthropic foundations, to a large and profitable industry: a multi-billion-dollar worldwide endeavor reaching 2 billion clients in low- and middle-income countries. The amount of international public and private funding to microfinance institutions has likewise increased dramatically—I estimate by a factor of 14 over the past decade — reaching $31 billion in 2013. Given this success, and the amount spent by impact investors (including development finance institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank), are we investing intelligently? 

In search of effective mentoring programs for women entrepreneurs

By Yuri Soares

By Yuri Soares and Maria Teresa Villanueva 

Mentoring is a tool that has the potential to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses, and in some cases change their lives. Models of mentoring are more widely available than ever before. Modern approaches emphasize that women benefit from a wide array of mentors—not only experienced and successful women, but also male role models, peers, and even competitors. Mentoring is also increasingly conducted through dynamic platforms, often online or through social media, and is increasingly integrated as part of broader programs.