Women and Enterprises: Driving Financial Inclusion and Investment Returns
  • April 29, 2015

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) in cooperation with the Australian Government have held a stakeholders’ conference on "Women and Enterprises: Driving Financial Inclusion and Investment Returns” in the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia on April 29 and 30 April.

BBC World News Presenter and Producer, Sharanjit Leyl moderated the conference which brought together the private sector, civil society organizations, national banks and financial institutions to identify innovations in both financial and non-financial markets that support low-income people and women’s inclusion in the formal economy.  More than 150 participants attended the conference.

The conference aimed at developing a framework for action to incentivise greater private and quasi-private sector investment and financing for micro-small-medium enterprises  (MSMEs), contributing in particular to women’s economic empowerment in frontier markets in the ASEAN region.

During her opening remarks speech, Her Excellency Deputy Governor of NBC, Neav Chanthana, explained: “Financial Inclusion is collaborative work between the government agencies, the private sector, and the development partners. The government agencies need to improve on enabling environments; the private sector needs to ethically and professionally deliver finance products and services which are in the needs of and afforded by consumers; and the development partners need to provide support and assistance for great financial inclusion.”

The conference introduced up-scale alternative financing models, to enhance the role of the private sector in financing MSMEs, to mobilize local capital and to collaborate and engage with existing initiatives and stakeholders in the field.

Ms. Emma Tiaree, Counsellor of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) stated: "Financial inclusion speaks to the core of Australia’s economic diplomacy agenda, whereby we prioritise our development assistance in ASEAN to support regional prosperity through private sector-led growth."

The event is being held under the auspices of the Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformation (SHIFT)[CP1]  programme, UNCDF’s grant and advocacy facility seeking to transition 6 million people into regulated financial market by 2020 through expanding markets for consumer finance to low-income people and business finance to MSMEs. SHIFT is currently in its design phase and looking for innovative partnerships with social venture funds, NGOs and financial institutions. 

UNCDF Representative, Mr. Feisal Hussein, added: “UNCDF’s SHIFT programme is about providing an answer to the question of: What is finance for? It is also about creating a platform for seemingly unrelated groups to connect, engage, and develop practical answers to some of the big questions about the role of a common ASEAN, the role of business and the role of women in making things happen.”



The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs). UNCDF uses its capital mandate to help LDCs pursue inclusive growth.  UNCDF uses ‘smart’ Official Development Assistance (ODA) to unlock and leverage public and private domestic resources; it promotes financial inclusion, including through digital finance, as a key enabler of poverty reduction and inclusive growth; and it demonstrates how localizing finance outside the capital cities can accelerate growth in local economies, promote sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure development, and empower local communities.  Using capital grants, loans, and credit enhancements, UNCDF tests financial models in inclusive finance and local development finance; ‘de-risks’ the local investment space; and proves concept, paving the way for larger and more risk-averse investors to come in and scale up.