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Covering the G-20’s major new economic initiative with a focus on property rights

Land is one of the most important assets for people and communities in every corner of the world, yet 72% of the world’s population lacks formal rights to their property. Without proof of ownership, that asset cannot be used as collateral, effectively shutting landowners out of opportunities for loans and credit and hindering the owners of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The G-20 recognizes that breaking down this kind of powerful barrier to financing is critical to helping the world’s small businesses grow and thrive. The G-20 SME Finance Challenge is finding solutions and committing to fund and support the best of them.

The G-20 has partnered with Ashoka Changemakers , which has a long track record of finding the world’s best solutions to social challenges and has a history of identifying and supporting innovators in property rights throughout the world. Entrants in the SME Finance competition, a separate current Property Rights Challenge, and other social entrepreneurs in the Ashoka and Changemakers community are proving that there are solutions to strengthening land rights that will improve opportunities for all.

Here are some potential angles and interviews for unique, interesting coverage of property rights, for the G-20 Summit and beyond:

“Unusable” land can become an asset for the landless – By imagining new uses for unused and unclaimed property, more people can become landowners, increasing individual and community wealth and economic stability.

Strengthening women’s property rights increases productivity and strengthens communities – In developing countries women produce 60-80% of the food and own less than 5% of the land. If women had the same access to land that men do, agricultural productivity would increase by 20%.
  • Example: Sikha Roy, an Ashoka fellow in India, is organizing women who are daily-wage earners to exercise a legal right over unused land and then to farm it. With produce of their own, the women can feed their families, escape the manifold abuses they are exposed to as laborers, and stay close to their children and loved ones, thereby bringing new life to their villages. Roy’s organization, Srreoshi, was a winner in a recent Changemakers competition
Collaboration and trust building between stakeholders is essential Some of the most effective innovations in property rights facilitate consensus between land-users and landowners, or between governments and local communities.
  • Example: Created to regularize the ownership status of the land of squatter families in Brazil’s major cities, Terra Nova resolves conflicts between landowners and squatters while fostering civic participation and community development. Terra Nova, founded by Ashoka Fellow Andre Albuquerque, operates in five states in Brazil and reaches 28 communities and some 30,000 families. 

Engaging the financial sector advances property rights reform Property rights are a highly emotive, politically charged, and multi-faceted issue. With a problem so deeply tied to policy and access to capital, the financial system must be a part of the solution. Owning land requires access to capital and/or credit, making coordination with the financial sector and support from policy makers a critical part of successful initiatives.

  • Example: Offering slum dwellers in Sri Lanka the opportunity to trade the municipal land they occupy and choose from new apartments available, Stock Exchange Market brings dignity and security to the poor. Working with welfare workers, government authorities, real estate developers and bankers, Dr. Darin Gunesekera, an Ashoka Fellow, creates for slum dwellers a transferable asset in the land they occupy which they exchange for entitlement certificates to purchase an apartment in a new building.

This is just a small fraction of the resources available through Ashoka and Changemakers. For further information and to access our global community of more than 140,000 changemakers around the world, please contact:

Sarah Mintz
Community Manager
Josh Middleman
Community Mobilizer