Winners of CGAP Photo Competition Showcase Struggles and Successes of the Working Poor

The annual Photography Competition hosted by CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) aims to draw attention to the ways that financial inclusion can improve the lives of the poor. For many of us, banking is easy: swiping a card or making payments online and with our smartphones. Yet, a reported 2 billion people worldwide lack access to these basic services, surviving on the fringe of the financial system without access to formal banking. The CGAP photo contest highlights the faces and resilience of the working poor, and aims to demonstrate how creating accessible financial services can improve lives by “spurring innovations and advancing knowledge and providing solutions that promote responsible, sustainable, financial markets.”

The decade-old competition was particularly successful this year, drawing 3,300 vivid entries from over 77 countries. The contest invited submissions in four categories that were deemed necessary for the advancement of financial inclusion: (1) Digital financial services and mobile banking; (2) Women's use of financial services; (3) Micro-finance for small business enterprises; and (4) Smallholder farmers and their families. Judges were stunned by the quality and sincerity of the stunning images they received. The photographs are powerful, evocative of strong emotion yet portraying the subjects with sensitivity and respect.

The series of images selected showcase the struggles, but also the successes, that are achieved by working poor communities. The competition draws attention to these business owners in hopes of impacting and improving their financial situation. More remarkable entries can be viewed here.

Above: Second Place Winner— “Fishing with a Net” by Liming Cao of China; Fishermen fish with nets early in the morning. They sell fish at the market to make a living.

Grand Prize Winner– “Paddy Cultivation” by Sujan Sarkar of India; Rice is the staple food of West Bengal, India. Men, women and even children take part in paddy cultivation.

Honourable Mention– “Grazing in the Morning” by Liming Cao of China; A herdsman family, with support through loans, bought thousands of sheep. They sell wool, goat's milk, and mutton to make a living.

Winner, East Asia and Pacific Region– “Overcoming Sandhill” by L Minh Qu?c of Vietnam; These workers pass through the dunes in the morning.

Winner, Middle East and North Africa Region– “Eye for Detail” by Evans Claire Onte of United Arab Emirates; This watch repairman makes a living by repairing watches in a small space in Bur Dubai.

Honorable Mention– “For the Next Journey” by Loc Mai of Vietnam; In a fishing village in Nhatran, Vietnam, these women are repairing fishnets for their husbands for the next journey to the ocean.

Honorable Mention– “A Small Shop Window” by Rana Pandey of India; A man looks out though a small window in his shop while a woman enters through an adjacent lane. The owner of the shop uses various services like electricity and telephone cables that let him run his shop and finance himself.

Honorable Mention– “Camel Market 2” by Mohamed Kamal of Egypt; Camel sellers enter a market in Egypt.

Honorable Mention– “Betel Nut” by M. Yousuf Tushar of Bangladesh; A self-employed man prepares betel nut to sell in a local market in Teknaf, Bangladesh. He is overcoming unemployment by planting and harvesting the crop.

Honorable Mention– “Iron Ribs” by Subhasis Sen of India; A young boy and his father work in their shop bending iron.

Winner, Small Business Enterprises– “Sari Spider” by Tatiana Sharapova of the Russian Federation; An Indian man makes a traditional silk sari at the first floor of his small house in Varanasi.

Winner, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Region– “Tomato” by Blent Suberk of Turkey; A peasant family in Bursa Aksu Village, Turkey, make tomato paste. Although it is impossible to increase wealth in all countries in the world, saving a human from poverty is the most common and important problem of the low income countries. I appreciate, like and take photographs of the people in my country who are learning and keep busy with manufacturing, folkloric arts and handiworks to save themselves from poverty and try to reach a minimum standard of living independently from the government aid.

Honourable Mention– “Grazing in the Morning” by Liming Cao of China; A herdsman family, with support through loans, bought thousands of sheep. They sell wool, goat's milk, and mutton to make a living.

Third Prize– “Hands for Freedom” by Pranab Basak of India; A teenage girl helps her father in their pottery business.

Honourable Mention– “Duck Egg Collection” by Tran Van Tuy of Vietnam; Duck breeding and egg harvesting is the main income for this family in Vietnam.

Winner, Smallholder Families– “Work in the Mountains” by Tatiana Sharapova of the Russian Federation; Old Ladakhi women work in a mountain field. They grow vegetables to sell at a local market in Ladakh, in northern India.

Winner, Latin America and Caribbean Region– “Eleuterio the Hairdresser” by David Martin Huamani Bedoya of Peru; Eleuterio Arturo Leon Mejia, who is more than 90 years old, has been dedicated to the profession of hairdresser since he was 25 years old. From his barber's chair, he has given style and elegance to several generations of his neighbors. He lives in Carhuaz (Ancash), Peru, together with his children and grandchildren, who are engaged in agriculture. With this small but appreciated business, he continues to contribute to his family.

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