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Women's Economic Empowerment and the Role of ICT

Thursday, May 4, 9:30a.m. – 12:00p.m.

For streaming video of the session, including closing remarks made by Dr. Nagy Hanna, please click PREM Learning Week, on page 4 of the Streaming Gateway catalogue at:

Brief description of the session

This seminar focused on the importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for poverty reduction and for the economic empowerment of poor women and men. One of the biggest obstacles to the growth of small and medium enterprises is the lack of credit, but also the lack of ICTs such as Internet, ATM, mobile phone, and point-of-sale networks. Making these tools available can provide them with information related to their business, reduce the costs of money transfers and put microfinance within the reach of poor men and women.

The seminar covered the following topics:

o the role of ICTs in promoting and facilitating business development and entrepreneurship;

o the way users assess and respond to the opportunities of new technologies; and

o the importance of ICTs in global money transfers and remittances;

The cases presented included:

o research by Visual Processing Company/UNESCO on the socio-economics impacts of rural telecenters in Iran;

o innovative work by Microfinance International Corporation which operates a sophisticated platform to make loans and remittances more accessible to US immigrants and microfinance institutions in nine Latin American countries; and

o research by CGAP’s technology program in Brazil, South Africa, and the Philippines on making financial services delivery more viable to financial institutions and to poor people which include a large part of women.

Welcome & Opening Remarks

Andrew Morrison, Lead Economist, PREM Gender and Development, World Bank

Juan Navas-Sabater, Senior Telecom Specialist, Global ICT Department, World Bank
Gender and ICT: Role of the World Bank Group (MS PowerPoint 571KB)


Nagy Hanna, Co-director, E-Leadership Academy, University of Maryland, and former World Bank ICT Senior Advisor on e-strategies


Nadereh Chamlou, Senior Advisor and Gender Coordinator, Middle East and North Africa Region, World Bank

Professor Ali A. Jalali, Iran University of Science and Technology, Electronic Research Center
Socio-Economic Impacts of Rural Telecenters in Iran (PDF 5,075KB)

Daniel Weiss, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Microfinance International Corporation
Migration, Remittances, and Microfinance (PDF 328KB)

Gautam Ivatury, Microfinance Specialist, The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)
Building Financial Systems for the Poor - Using ICTs to Expand Access to Finance (PDF 1200KB)

Speakers Bios:

Mr. Juan Navas-Sabater has been working with the Policy Division of the Global ICT Department of the World Bank since 1998. His main duties involve the design, preparation and supervision of telecommunications sector reform projects in a number of countries of Latin America, Africa and the Former Soviet Union, with a special focus on universal access and rural telecommunications issues. In addition, he is actively involved in the design and implementation of e-government and information technology components in public sector reform projects, as well as in land administration, cadastral and registration projects. Prior to joining the World Bank, in addition to extensive experience in the private sector, including in Alcatel and Ericsson, among others, he held for several years a position at the State Secretary for Telecommunications and Information Society, within the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology.

Nagy K. Hanna
Internationally recognized development strategist with extensive experience in advising developing countries and aid agencies on implementing strategies to leverage information and communication technology in support of national, sectoral and business development.  Initiated the E-leadership Forum at the University of Maryland. Led the World Bank’s practice in applying ICT for development, as the Bank’s first senior advisor on e-strategies, and the founder and chair of the worldwide
 community of practice on e-development.  Over 30 years of diverse development experience across all geographic regions, covering private sector development, knowledge economy, and state modernization.  Assisted India is designing its first strategy for software exports in 1990. Pioneered World Bank lending for integrated e-development programs with the e-Sri Lanka operation in 2003. Executive coach, innovator, communicator, and thought leader.    Was responsible for developing ICT strategies, strategic management processes, capacity building programs, learning systems, and new lending and advisory services for the World Bank and client countries.  Spoke and published extensively on e-development, e-leadership, e-government, national competitiveness, strategic planning, change management, executive education and institutional development.  PhD, Wharton, and executive development, Harvard.  

Dr. Ali A. Jalali is an assistant professor at the Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST), and also an Adjunct Professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the West Virginia University. He has more than 10 years of experience in the field of Science and Information Technology in various disciplines. He is well-known for his theory "Virtual Age the fourth wave of change" and for his activities towards the development of ICT and its applications in Iran. He has received National Award from Ministry of Cultural for the best translated book of the year "Programmable Logic Controller (PLC, in the field of computer, 2001. Also Dr. Jalali has received National Award for the best researcher of the year in the field of Information Technology in Iran, from 2nd Internet and Telephone card Festival, 2004. He is especially well known for his more than 800 popular workshops, seminars, lectures and speeches, on science and technology, in national and international level and for his programs on national radio and television, since 1994.

He is director of Electronic Research Center at the Iran University of Science and Technology from 1998, where he has accomplished numerous research projects and contracts for governmental institutes as well as private sectors in the area of e-learning, e-commerce, e-government, and especially extending ICT applications to rural areas. Dr. Jalali was director of three major national ICT projects: National Master Plan for Rural ICT, Developing ten thousands Rural ICT Teleservice Centers in Iran, and creating Master Plan for ICT Development in Mazandaran Province. He was also director of the first Persian-based Learning Management System (LMS) software, developed for the Ministry of Education in Iran. Dr. Jalali is author of numerous papers and several books in the area of science and technology: Electronic Cities, Application Service Provider (ASP), E-Learning Dictionary which is published through contract for Ministry of Education. Dr. Jalali is founder and director of the first Internet and Electronic City in Kish, director of IT master plan for Mashhad Electronic City, founder of the first Rural Telecenter in remote village of Gharnabad which is very well known at national and international level and founder of the first Internet village, Shahkooh, in Iran. Shahkooh has become one of the top news reports for Associated Press, USA today, Yahoo, Washington Post and CNN in July 2002. Dr. Jalali holds a Ph.D in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from the West Virginia University.

Daniel A. Weiss, Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, joined Microfinance International after serving as Executive Vice President at MicroManos Corporation, a human resource outsouring firm where he managed corporate affairs and led efforts to develop the initial client base. Prior to MicroManos, Mr. Weiss was a financial consultant and Manager of Government Affairs and Strategic Alliances at Walton Management Services, Inc., where he helped establish a practice area to assist clients secure government funding for corporate development activities. Mr. Weiss was the recipient of a Woodrow Wilson/Thomas Pickering Fellowship from the US Department of State and worked for one year in the Office of the Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State for Kosovo and Dayton Implementation. He has served as a microfinance industry representative at various events, including conferences of the Federal Reserve System. He earned his M.A. in International Affairs with a focus on Strategic Management from George Washington University, after graduating summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Political Science. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of MicroManos Corporation.

Gautam Ivatury is a Microfinance Specialist at CGAP. Mr. Ivatury manages CGAP’s microfinance technology program and was earlier responsible for much of CGAP’s work on commercial investment in microfinance. He has written several research papers and articles on these topics. Mr. Ivatury also works on several of CGAP’s initiatives in South Asia, which focus on engagements with banks and innovative pilot projects. Prior to CGAP, Mr. Ivatury served as Vice President of Finance at SKS Microfinance, a leading microfinance institution based in Hyderabad, India. He has also worked on electric power financings at the International Finance Corporation and at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (now Credit Suisse First Boston). Mr. Ivatury holds an M.A. and a B.A. in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University.


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