UNCDF and AFI enter into partnership agreement to advance financial inclusion in ASEAN

  • February 04, 2016

  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) entered into a strategic partnership within the framework of AFI’s Public-Private Dialogue Platform (PPD).

The agreement builds on a good working relationship between AFI and UNCDF and opens up new possibilities for deeper cooperation and knowledge exchanges on financial inclusion issues.

In 2015, the UN announced the launch of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a roadmap to help guide development work over the next 15 years. Accompanying the SDGs was the Addis Ababa Action Plan, which provided specific recommendations to help reach the aspirations of the SDGs. Financial inclusion is a key element of the Action Plan, along with a strong emphasis on country led approaches to policy development and a call to engage in cooperative peer-to-peer learning. With this new agreement, UNCDF and AFI are helping to set strong foundations upon which the SDGs can be elevated.

AFI and UNCDF’s partnership will focus on financial inclusion within the ASEAN region. UNCDF’s traditional engagement in ASEAN countries is now being complemented with the Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (SHIFT), a regional programme supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Government of Australia. SHIFT advances women’s economic empowerment, particularly in the least developed countries, by unlocking financial markets, and integrating women-centric strategies in growing inclusive enterprises. This partnership will cover a number of policy areas which have been identified as high priority by both AFI members and UNCDF, these include:

  • Financial inclusion and gender. The partnership will be instrumental in ensuring that policy lessons and learning in the area of financial inclusion and gender that take place within AFI’s global platforms inform policy design and implementation at the regional level in ASEAN.
  • Peer Learning. The partnership will support peer learning on the broader scale, with a particular focus on scaling up peer learning for ASEAN members on the topics of financial inclusion strategies, financial inclusion data, payments and remittances and digital financial services.
  • Better Data. The partnership will help to identify national level needs of ASEAN members in implementing their financial inclusion strategies, facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement and provide additional demand-driven contributions to support the development and implementation of national strategies.

The new agreement is the first since AFI announced its independence process was successfully completed, creating the first member-owned and member-supported international organization of policymakers focused exclusively on financial inclusion.

AFI’s Executive Director, Alfred Hannig, highlighted the importance of the agreement, “Financial inclusion can be a powerful force for achieving the SDGs and helping to bring more than 2 billion unbanked into the formal financial system. But to reach its full potential, it requires effective and strong partnerships such as this. Working together we will amplify the power of financial inclusion work across the ASEAN region and help to improve the lives of the poor.”

This sentiment is further shared by UNCDF’s Acting Asia Regional Coordinator and Senior Regional Technical Advisor for Financial Inclusion, Feisal Hussain, “To bring about systemic change in financial markets requires multiple actors in the system to collaborate around a shared vision contributing varying strengths to solve a common problem. The establishment of this strategic partnership brings us forward in advancing women’s economic empowerment and accelerating financial inclusion in the developing world”.

About the Alliance for Financial Inclusion

The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI),, is a global peer-learning network of more than 100 policymaking and regulatory institutions from over 90 developing and emerging countries working together to advance financial inclusion policy. AFI members represent over 85% of the more than 2 billion unbanked people, most of whom live in poverty. Follow us on: Twitter @NewsAFI and on the AFI Blog

About the United Nations Capital Development Fund

UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries (LDCs). With its capital mandate and instruments, 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. This last mile is where available resources for development are scarcest; where market failures are most pronounced; and where benefits from national growth tend to leave people excluded.