UNCDF works in Zambia to promote accessible financial services and create financial systems for sustainable and inclusive local development.
Today, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF works with public and private sector, leveraging technology and innovation, to meet the Sustainable Development Goals through the creation of a Digital Economy.
UNCDF is implementing the Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) programme, which is designed to focus intently on least developed countries (LDCs) where the commercial business case for digital financial services (DFS) might be challenging, but the needs of the population are great. Additionally, UNCDF is implementing YouthStart, a global initiative that aims at increasing access to financial services for low-income youth, with an emphasis on savings and financial education.
LDCs often have low economic activity levels, low GDP per capita and poorer infrastructure and regulatory environments, banks and mobile network operators have sometimes been hesitant to invest in these new services. UNCDF works closely with banks, mobile network operators, regulators and users of these services to help address the barriers to advancing financial inclusion. In doing so, UNCDF hopes to prove that these services can be offered sustainably by the private sector in LDCs. In Zambia, MM4P works in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and a range of actors including the Central Bank of Zambia, Zambia Information and Communication Telecommunications Agency, DFS providers, FinTechs and development partners to accelerate uptake and usage of DFS among Zambian adults. Since 2015, UNCDF has successfully implemented a mix of technical assistance and grants to public and private sector that has contributed to an acceleration of usage and provision of digital financial services that address Zambian needs, wants and aspirations. Active adult usage of digital financial services has jumped from 2% in 2014 to 24% in 2017.
The YouthStart programme is working with over 10 financial service providers in eight countries to provide access to savings for over 514,000 youth, access to loans to 71,735 young entrepreneurs, and financial literacy and other non-financial services to 502,600 youth.
Zambia is also one of the countries where UNCDF implements Making Access Possible (MAP) programme, a methodology designed by UNCDF and Cenfri. This programme is a multi-country initiative to develop a robust evidence base on which to base financial inclusion and financial sector policy. The MAP programme in Zambia will work in partnership with the Bank of Zambia and Ministry of Finance to provide relevant information and appropriate recommendations on the market for financial services that can inform their strategy going forward.
UNCDF has learned from these different approaches that financial inclusion can help address the challenges hindering the growth of financial inclusion. To share learnings with the market, UNCDF has produced a wide variety of knowledge management products including blogs, infosheets, videos and reports that are publicly available in our resources section.