2017 Cases

Participants are provided with 3 development case studies to choose from. Alternatively, participants may also submit proposals under the open category by selecting a development challenge of their choice. However, teams that choose to apply via the open category are advised to email their choice of development challenge to devinitiative@georgetown.edu early for approval.

8 finalists with the most innovative, succinct, feasible and well-planned proposal will be invited to Georgetown University to present their proposal in front of a panel of development practitioners. Winners will be awarded the chance to implement their project through Georgetown Development Initiative, as well as gain visibility amongst development organizations. 

Case #1: Water Security in Rural Communities

The Problem

Worldwide 2.4 billion people do not have access to basic clean water. In Asia, 78% of urban and only 31% of rural residents have access to clean water and sanitation (WHO, 2000). “Much of the thinking about the concept of “environmental security” has moved beyond a presumed causal relationship between environmental stress and violent conflict to a broader notion of “human security”. Within this framework, water resources—their scarcity, distribution and quality—have been named as the factor most likely to lead to intense political pressures. Water ignores political boundaries, evades institutional classification and eludes legal generalizations. Worldwide, water demands are increasing, groundwater levels are dropping, water bodies are increasingly contaminated and delivery and treatment infrastructure is aging. As water quality degrades—or quantity diminishes— over time, the effect on the stability of a region can be unsettling.” (Wolf et al 1).  A lack of clean water gives rise to chronic illnesses, which affect the educational and employment capacity of individuals. The lack of water and its misuse itself also brings about a huge reduction in agricultural capabilities which can hugely hamper economic and rural development.

The Task

To effectively come up with innovative ways to: 1) create a greater flow of clean water into remote rural communities, 2) increase the amount of sanitation of already present water in the developing world, and/or 3) increase the conservation and productivity of the use of water in agriculture and everyday life in order to promote economic development in developing countries and regions

Case #2: Addressing Challenges in Microfinance Initiatives and Microfinance Vehicles

In the last few decades, the microfinance landscape has experienced dramatic changes, from microcredit to complex systems operated by microfinance institutions (MFIs) and microfinance vehicles (MFVs). One of primary purposes of their products and services is to help low-income populations attain their financial objectives. However, microfinance only reaches less than 20% of world’s three billion or more poor, according to an estimate by IFC.

The Problem

Financial services such as microfinance could be a strong instrument to empower close to three billion people in developing countries, acquiring and increasing their assets through economic stress. However, the majority of the populations in developing nations encounter difficulties taking full advantage of microfinance services, as an estimated 500 million micro-entrepreneurs are still excluded due to challenges faced by MFIs and MFVs.

The Task

To identify areas where MFIs and MFVs are facing challenges within the microfinance landscape and to develop an action plan for providing the low-income population with the necessary tools to persevere and flourish during periods of economic distress. One of the critical components in solving the issue could be correlated to the management of risks through appropriate investment valuations, as well as following ever-changing regulations and requirements. The challenges call for actions by the microfinance, government, and private sectors, creating synergies to foster continual growth in the fight against poverty.

**Case submitted by the George Washington Undergraduate International Business Association, a student organization that promotes and educates GW students about academic, cultural, and employment applications of International Business.

Case #3: Female Empowerment through Family Planning Services

The Problem

Nigeria is home to about 170 million people and currently the world’s sixth largest country in terms of population. If it were to maintain its current population growth rate of almost three percent per year, its population would reach 400 million by 2050 and surpass that of China by 2100. Population growth may well be beneficial to economic growth, but overpopulation is undesirable for the various adverse effects that it can have on a country’s development. Nigeria has already suffered many of them: overcrowding cities, high unemployment rate, increasing social unrests, only to name a few. To address this issue, the Nigerian government has made several attempts at promoting smaller family sizes by distributing free contraceptive, but their effects were minimal, and the average fertility level remains high (5.5 of children per woman). Many factors contributed to the lackluster performance of the government’s family planning programs, and one of them is associated with the low status of women in Nigerian society. On top of their lack of access to modern contraception, many Nigerian women do not have decision-making power in their households and therefore cannot use contraception against their husbands’ will.

The Task

Empirical studies have shown that that more empowered women are more likely to use modern contraception. Design a policy or a plan of action that can increase female status in Nigeria and remove the cultural barriers to their accessing family planning services (keep in mind of the difference in religious affiliations in different parts of Nigeria)

Case #4: Open Category

Participants are allowed to submit under the Open Category as long as their topic of choice is related to international development. We encourage you to email devinitative@georgetown.edu for topic approval!