Prof. William F. Steel

Prof. William F. Steel
Adjunct Professor

William Steel is currently Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana, teaching microfinance and consulting for the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. He has worked on micro and small enterprise development, micro and rural finance, the informal economy, industrialization, solar energy, and other topics in Ghana, Uganda and other African countries. He retired in 2005 as Senior Adviser in the Africa Region Private Sector, World Bank, where he worked since 1983 and also Co-Chaired the Donor Committee for Small Enterprise Development (1991-2004). He has a PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and previously taught economics at Vanderbilt University and the University of Ghana. He has served as an Advisor in the African Development Bank and the Indonesia National Planning Agency. He is a founder and Board member of the Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) network. He has published widely on small enterprise development, informal finance, microfinance regulation, informal employment, and industrial adjustment.

  • Microfinance
  • Micro and small enterprise development
  • Informal economy

Selected Publications from 2007 to date                       

Refereed Journals:

“To regulate or not? Microfinance growth and collapse in Ghana” (with Seth Anani, Alfred Asante, and Yaw Gyima-Larbi), Enterprise Development and Microfinance  32:4 (2021), pp. 216-34.

“Determinants of Credit Demand and Credit Constraints among Households in Ghana” (with Theodora A. Asiamah and Charles Ackah, Heliyon 7 (October 2021)

Training vs. informal financial services for the promotion of financial literacy and inclusion in Uganda” (with Colin Agabalinda), Enterprise Development and Microfinance (June 2021) 32:1–2, 107–122 <>

“Drivers of Mobile Financial Inclusion in Ghana” (with Michael Kodom, Charles Ackah and Godfred Bokpin), Enterprise Development and Microfinance (December 2020) 31(4), pp. 226–253.

“Informal-formal linkages in market and street trading in Accra” (with Nana Akua Anyidoho), African Review of Economics and Finance, Vol. 8, No. 2 (December 2016), pp. 171-200.

“Developing Rural Markets for Solar Products: Lessons from Ghana” (with Nana Akua Anyidoho, Frank Y. Dadzie, and Richard Hosier), Energy for Sustainable Development 31 (2016), pp. 178-184.

“Why Evictions Do Not Deter Street Traders: Case Study in Accra, Ghana” (with T. D. Ujoranyi and G. Owusu), Ghana Social Science Journal, Vol. 11, No. 2 (December 2014), pp. 50-73.

Effects of Mobile Phone Use on Artisanal Fishing Market Efficiency and Livelihoods in Ghana” (with M. Salia and N.N.N. Nsowah-Nuamah), The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, Vol. 47, No. 6 (August 2011). 

“Going downmarket: Ghana’s Rural Banks adapt informal savings methodology” (with Bubune Tornyie), Enterprise Development and Microfinance, Vol 21, No. 2 (June 2010).

“Two Decades of Small Enterprise Development and Microfinance,”  Enterprise Development and Microfinance, Vol 20, No. 4 (December 2009).

“Small Enterprise Development and Microfinance in Ghana,” New Legon Observer, Vol. 3, No. 8 (June, 2009): pp. 4-8.

“Informal Enterprises and Pro-Poor Growth,” New Legon Observer, Vol. 2, No. 8 (November  2008), pp. 12-15.

Chapters in Books

“Formal and Informal Enterprises as Drivers and Absorbers of Employment,” Ch. 12 in The Economy of Ghana: Sixty Years after Independence, E. Aryeetey and R. Kanbur, eds, Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 192-206.

“Regulation and Performance of Ghana’s Multi-tiered Rural and Microfinance Industry,” Chapter 11 in George Owusu, Robert D. Osei, and Felix A. Asante, Eds. Contemporary Development Policies and Practices: A Reader,  Legon: Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana, 2015.

“Banking the Un-Banked: Susu Savings and Credit Scheme in Rural Banks” (with B. Bubune Tornyie), Chapter 4 in Domestic Resource Mobilisation for Inclusive Development in Ghana, Peter Quartey, Ellen Bortei-Doku Aryeetey and Charles G. Ackah, eds., Legon, Ghana: Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), 2014.

“Trends in Ghana’s Rural and Micro Finance Industry, 2006-12,” Chapter 2 in GHAMFIN, Performance, Monitoring and Benchmarkings of Microfinance Institutions in Ghana: Trends in the Inudstry during the 2000s: 2006-12, Accra: Ghana Microfinance Institutions Network (GHAMFIN), 2014.

“Regulation and Supervision of Ghana’s Multi-tiered Rural and Microfinance Industry,” Chapter 5 in Promoting Microfinance: Challenges and Innovations in Developing Countries and Countries in Transition, Ronny Manos, Jean-Pierre Gueyie, and Jacob Yaron, eds, London: Palgrave McMillan (2013).

“Microfinance in Africa” (with Jennifer Isern), The Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa, Ernest Aryeetey and Ravi Kanbur, eds. 2012, pp. 380-5.

“Rural and Microfinance Regulation in Ghana: Implications for Development of the Industry” (with David O. Andah), Chapter 10 in Ernest Aryeetey and Ravi Kanbur, eds., The Economy of Ghana: Analytical Perspectives on Stability, Growth and Poverty, Accra, Ghana: Woeli Publishing  Services and James Currey (UK), 2008.

Other Publications:

“Urban Food Market Decongestion and Development Following COVID-19” (with Theodora Asiamah). 2020. Scholarly Community Encyclopedia.

“Building the market for urban sanitation in Ghana.” Washington, D.C.: Global Partnership for Output-Based Aid, Blended Finance Learning Note, June 2018.

“Does ‘microfinance’ mean what it used to?” Guest editorial in Enterprise Development and Microfinance 28, 2 (Sept. 2017), pp. 145-6.

“Perceptions of Costs and Benefits of Informal-Formal Linkages: Market and Street Vendors in Accra, Ghana” (with Nana Akua Anyidoho), Cambridge, MA: WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing) Working Paper No. 35 (November, 2015).

“Addressing gaps to achieve AFSAP objectives,” The Microfinance News, Edition 3, Ghana Ministry of Finance (May 2014).

“Regulatory Framework and Issues for Rural/Micro Finance in Ghana,” Microfinance Newsletter, Ghana Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (June 2008).



“Project Performance Assessment Report: Côte d’Ivoire First, Second and Third Poverty Reduction Support Credits,” IEG Report No. 163936, December 2021.

“Assessment of the Clean Cooking Market in Ghana: Improving Access to Finance for Businesses and End-Users,” report for GPRBA and ESMAP, May 2020.

“Innovative Blended Finance Model for Sanitation in Low-Income Communities: Nairobi OBA Sanitation Project,” report and Knowledge Brief for GPOBA, October 2018.

“Strategies for Household Sanitation: Ghana’s Experience with Output-based Aid and Implementation of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area Sanitation & Water Project,” with Bertha Darteh, for GPOBA and Ghana Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, June 2018.

“Alternative Approaches to Incentivizing Financing for Household Sanitation,” for GPOBA and Ghana Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, June 2018

“Results-Based Blended Finance Approaches: Building the Market for Urban Sanitation in Ghana,” GPOBA Learning Note, May 2018.

“Nigeria’s Microfinance Bank Sector: Review and Recommendations,” World Bank Policy Note, Finance and Markets, December 2017.

“Ghana’s Development Finance Institutions: Review of Current Status,” World Bank, Finance and Markets, May 2016.

“Ghana’s Microfinance Sector: Challenges, Risks and Recommendations,” World Bank, Finance and Markets, April 2016.

“Developing Rural Markets for Solar Products: Lessons from Ghana’s GEDAP/GPOBA Project” (with Nana Akua Anyidoho and Frank Y. Dadzie), World Bank, 2015.

“BeneficiaryAssessment of the GPOBA Project: Solar PV Systems for Rural Poor in Ghana,” with Nana Akua Anyidoho and Robert Afutu-Kotey, for Ghana Ministry of Energy and Petroleum September 2014.

“Ghana’s Microfinance Sector: Risks and Strategic Options for Financial Inclusion,” Briefing Note for World Bank, Africa West and Central Private and Financial Sector Development Division, 2014.

“Income Generation through Energy and Complementary Services: Survey of Micro and Small Enterprises in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana,” for German Technical Assistance (GTZ), May 2008.

“Raising Productivity and Reducing Risks of Household Enterprises: Diagnostic Methodology Framework” (with Donald Snograss), for World Bank PREM Network and WIEGO Network, Sept. 2008.

“Electricity Use and Demand among Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises: Results of Census in Ghana’s Brong-Ahafo Region,” for German Technical Assistance (GTZ), March 2007.

Conference Papers and Lectures:

“Challenges for Financing Household Toilets in Ghana,” presentation to World Bank/GPOBA Urban Sanitation Forum, Accra, Ghana, May 29-31, 2018.

“PROFIRA SACCO Component: Progress, Challenges & Way Forward,” Stakeholder Workshop for the Project for Financial Inclusion in Rural Areas,” Kampala, Uganda, May 29, 2018.

“Savings and Loan Products for GAMA SWP Beneficiaries,” GAMA Sanitation and Water Project Workshop on Financing Household Toilet Delivery, Accra, Ghana, Feb. 27, 2018.

“How (Not) to Do a Literature Review,” presentation at University of Ghana, Legon, Feb. 27, 2018; Feb. 19, 2019; Feb. 18, 2020; March 23, 2021.

Key financial issues of implementation”; “Profile of GAMA beneficiaries”; and “Proposed partial guarantee scheme,” Workshop on Developing WASH Financial Products, Greater Accra Metropolitan Area Sanitation and Water Project, Accra, November 22-23, 2017.

 “How (Not) to Choose a Dissertation Topic,” presentation at University of Ghana, Legon, Oct. 3, 2017; Oct. 23, 2018; Oct. 15, 2019; Feb, 9, 2021; April 5, 2022.

“Accelerating Toilet Installations: Financing and Other Issues,” GAMA Sanitation and Water Project Workshop, Accra, Ghana, March 14, 2017.

“Establishing and Implementing a New Regulatory Framework for the Tier 4 Microfinance Sector,” Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Kampala, Uganda, October 20, 2015

 “Microfinance Regulation and Financial Inclusion in Ghana,” presentation to the Uganda National Microfinance Conference, Kampala, January 29-30, 2015.

“Managing Transformation to Regulated Microfinance Institution,” presentation to Ghana Microfinance Forum, Accra, July 2, 2013, and to the Sustainable Microenterprise Development Programme, Accra, March 18, 2013 and March 17, 2014.

“How (Not) to Choose a Dissertation Topic and Do a Literature Review,” presentation at University of Ghana, Oct. 7, 2014; Dec. 7, 2013; Sept. 27, 2012; Oct. 12, 2010; Sept. 29,2009.

“Community-Based Savings and Credit Groups,” Presentation to Uganda Minister of Microfinance, Kampala, May 15, 2012.

“Types and Uses of Matching Grants and Experience in Ghana” and “AFSAP Action Areas Addressed by GoG-IFAD-AfDB-supported Programs,” presented to the Workshop to Review Agricultural Financing Strategy and Action Plan,” Accra, Ghana, April 19, 2012.

“Ghana’s Rural and Micro Finance Industry 2001-2010,” presentation to the Annual General Meeting of the Ghana Association of Microfinance Institutions, Kasoa, Ghana, December 7, 2011.

“Banking the Un-banked: Susu Savings and Credit Scheme in Rural Banks” (with Bubune B. Tornyie), Presented to ISSER @ 40 Conference on Domestic Resource Mobilization, Accra, M-Plaza Hotel, 17 November, 2009.

“Rural Bank Financing of Solar Home Systems and Lanterns,” presentation to Workshop on Ghana Energy Development and Acces Project, Kumasi, February 20, 2009.

“MSE Use of Electricity, Finance and BDS in Brong-Ahafo,” presentation to GTZ-World Bank Workshop on Income Generation through Energy and Complementary Services (INGENS), April 2-3, 2008; and ISSER Seminar, February 24, 2009.

“Identifying and Addressing Sources of Recovery Problems in Microenterprise Lending: Lessons from CBRDP,” presentation to CBRDP Workshops: Sunyani October 24, 2008 and Koforidua November 7, 2008.

Respondent, Breakout Session on Addressing Informality, Conference on “Creating Better Business Environments for Enterprise Development: African and Global Lessons for More Effective Donor Practices,” Donor Committee for Enterprise Development, Accra, 5-7 November, 2007.

“MSME Distribution and Use of Electricity in Brong-Ahafo: Results of Survey for GTZ,” ISSER Faculty Seminar (with Clement Ahiadake), April 17, 2007; and presentation to BDS Donor Group, May 3, 2007.

Conference Rapporteur, FIAS-ISSER Regional Conference on Enterprise Formalization in Africa Accra, Ghana, January 10-11, 2007.


Microfinance and Development (ISDS 626)