Leapfrogging Emerging Markets with Technology

Overview A year ago, at CES® 2020, CTA, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) launched a series of Global Challenges calling on technology to help reduce poverty and improve livelihoods in developing countries. Learn more about how technology paves the way for growth in these emerging markets.

The World Bank Group has two goals: to end extreme poverty and to create shared prosperity for developing countries. At CES® 2020, the World Bank, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) launched the Global Tech Challenge calling on technology innovators to help solve these challenges through three major areas; digital health in East Africa, resilience in India and gender equality around the world.

Makhtar Diop, vice president for infrastructure, World Bank, and Stephanie von Friedeburg, interim managing director, EVP and COO, International Finance Corporation, joined us at CES 2021 to talk about why technology is vital and how technology is a catalyst for growth and for good for these emerging markets while opening new opportunities for innovators.


Providing Service for All

“Technology has allowed us to be able to leapfrog and to be able to provide much more services to the poor,” Diop said in an interview with CTA and the IFC at CES 2021. “It had a tremendous impact on growth.”

More than just improving quality of services in e-agriculture, health care and more, technology solutions in these strengthening countries are providing an unprecedented level of transparency.

Major areas of growth in these markets are housed in the service sector such as farming, which have benefitted from increased access to broadband and mobile services, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and more. This has allowed them to play a more significant role in the world market and raise their economic standing.

“If you look at technology in the developed world, it has been a driver to economic growth and for job creation,” von Friedeburg said. “That same application of technologies can and must apply in emerging markets. We need to use technology to find new business models.”

Supporting Business Opportunities in These Areas

The IFC believes that the path toward achieving the World Bank’s goals is through the private sector, to not only drive economic growth but also to create jobs. Through IFC programs such as TechEmerge, the IFC hopes to encourage and support startups to pursue business opportunities in these harder, emerging markets.

Von Friedeburg notes three things needed to build a major digital economy, particularly important in these markets:

  • Creation of a digital infrastructure

  • Digitally literate citizens to leverage the infrastructure, and software engineers and developers to help maintain and build the technology

  • An entrepreneurial ecosystem

IFC plays a role in all three of these spaces to best help innovators launch successful initiatives that can solve many of the issues in developing countries.


Technology has proven to be a force for good in the world and holds so much promise to solve other pressing challenges as new innovations are developed. The solutions created by the winners of the Global Tech Challenge and all applicants, as well as the support and work of the World Bank and the IFC, are set to inspire more revolutionary solutions to come.

Explore all the winners of the Global Tech Challenge

On-demand programming from the all-digital CES 2021 is now available for all to view. The industry-changing insights and announcements shared by tech visionaries at CES 2021 are key to the continued growth and advancement of your business and our tech ecosystem. With that in mind, we’ve opened the CES sessions to everyone.

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