Where we work

ZAMBIA

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.

Through Financial Inclusion, UNCDF is implementing the Making Access Possible (MAP) programme, a methodology designed by UNCDF and Cenfri. Recognizing the need to deliver broader financial inclusion, the government of Zambia has made financial inclusion a top priority and will develop a financial inclusion strategy as part of the continuation of their financial sector development plan.

To inform this strategy, Financial Sector Deepening Trust Zambia (FSDZ) is the process of conducting a financial inclusion diagnostic under the global Making Access Possible (MAP) programme with 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.

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.

The YouthStart programme is working with over 10 financial services 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.

UNCDF has learned from these different approaches that financial inclusion can help address the youth employment challenge through its regional pilot; however, UNCDF has also found that in order to have a greater and long-lasting impact on youth, the YouthStart program must go beyond financial inclusion. Indeed, while young people need access to relevant and affordable financial services, they also require access to entrepreneurship training, mentoring, apprenticeships, and other relevant non-financial services that can support their transition from school to work at the right time, and allow them to secure and sustain decent jobs and/or start and sustain successful enterprises.

Zambia is also one of the eight countries where UNCDF implements its Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) programme, which is designed to focus intently on some of the poorer countries where the commercial business case for digital financial services (DFS) is marginal, but the needs of the population are great.

With lower incomes, economic activity levels and poorer infrastructure and regulatory environments, banks and mobile network operators have been hesitant to invest in these new services in least developed countries (LDCs). MM4P is working intently with banks, mobile network operators, regulators and users of these services to help them reach to millions currently unbanked. In doing so, UNCDF hopes to prove that these services can be offered sustainably by the private sector in LDCs.

MM4P is currently engaged in eight LDCs: Benin, Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR), Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia each of which offers unique opportunities and challenges. MM4P joined hands with Financial Sector Deepening Zambia (FSDZ) to launch its programme in Zambia in 2015 focused on accelerating uptake and usage of DFS.

Programmes in Zambia

MM4P

supporting and cooperating with banks, mobile network operators and regulators to help them reach unbanked customers

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MAP

a diagnostic and programmatic framework to expand financial access for rural individuals, and micro and small businesses

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YouthStart

increasing access to financial services for low-income youth, with an emphasis on savings and financial education

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About Zambia

15.5 M

Population

8.1 M

Adult Population

54.8%

Adults in Urban
Areas

61%

Adults with
Mobile Phone

18%

Registered Users of Digital Financial Services (DFS)

122

Active DFS Agents per 10,000
of the Adult Population

STORIES FROM THE FIELD

Our Team

Lusaka, Zambia

Nandini Harihareswara

Regional Technical Specialist

Zerubabel Junior Kwebiiha

Digital Financial Services Expert

  • Uloma Ogba

  • Knowledge Management Specialist