The Government of Australia has committed A$5.9million (US$6.15 million) to support the UNCDF-UNDP Joint Programme “Making Access to Finance More Inclusive for Poor People (MAFIPP)”.
The contribution was confirmed today at a ceremony, where an agreement was signed between H.E. Sonexay Sithphaxay, Deputy Governor of Bank of Lao PDR, H.E. Lynda Worthaisong, Australian Ambassador to Laos and Mr. Minh Pham, United Nations Resident Coordinator, in UN House in Vientiane.
The MAFIPP project, a joint United Nations Capital Development Fund’s (UNCDF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initiative implemented by the Bank of the Lao PDR (BOL) seeks to improve access by poor rural households to a variety of financial services thus reducing poverty through improving rural household incomes.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Pham said: “Achieving the MDGs and improving opportunities for current and future generations is critically dependent on significantly increasing people’s access to finance.” He thanked AusAID for their generous support to the programme, which will “create opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people to build businesses and improve their lives”.
Expressing his sincere thanks to AusAID, UNCDF and UNDP, H.E. Sonexay remarked “This is a very important contribution and the MAFIPP programme is closely linked to work plan of the Bank of Lao PDR.”
The Ambassador of Australia H.E. Lynda Worthaisong said that Australia is committed to provide poor rural families, in particular women, with greater and inclusive access to financial services and opportunities to generate income. “This is a practical way to address our poverty reduction objectives. Under the Laos Australia Rural Livelihoods Program, we support financial inclusion working both on the supply and demand sides of inclusive finance. Last week, we signed an agreement with GIZ for our partnership on AFP and today, Australia formally presents its partnership with UNCDF and BoL through the Inclusive Finance for the Poor. Through these two complementary interventions with UNCDF and GIZ, Australia is able to strengthen the financial services sector and provide poor rural families with greater access to financial services”, Ms. Worthaisong said.
The new MAFIPP programme will support Bank of Lao PDR to improve the policy and regulatory environment for microfinance, promote accountability and transparency of financial services, and encourage financial services providers to be more responsive to the needs of poor households and micro-entrepreneurs. Australia’s investment will provide funding for the project over the next four years.