Developing countries are being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. As governments impose strict lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus, families and small businesses are finding it difficult to earn enough to tide these difficult times. This has created a vast number of ‘new poor’ who will continue to be severely affected by the economic downturn even after the immediate public health emergency is brought under control.

In response, many L/MICs have announced direct cash transfers to citizens and financial support to small businesses to help mitigate some of the impact. How can these countries leverage digital technologies, especially the combination of digital ID, financial access, and mobile phones, to deliver these programs better, getting resources to individuals and small businesses quickly and efficiently?  What other digital tools can help small businesses survive the COVID crisis and thrive after it? And how can developing countries use COVID-19 cash transfers to expand the digital payments acceptance ecosystem for small businesses and deliver the support they need to transition to this new way of doing business?

Drawing on the global, regional, and national experiences, this event will highlight the opportunities and challenges of building a better digital infrastructure to help individuals and SMEs in developing countries during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


  • Alan GelbSenior Fellow, Center for Global Development
  • Alice Waweru, Regional Program Manager for the Pan-Africa Youth Entrepreneur Development Program, TechnoServe
  • Juan ThomasGlobal Entrepreneurship Director, TechnoServe
  • Manoj Sharma, Founding Partner, MicroSave Consulting


If you have questions for our panelists, please submit them to, tweet @CGDev #CGDTalks, or submit your comments via YouTube.