Calls for Applications

RFA: Gender-Smart Innovations to Increase Access to Finance and Digital Inclusion for Women in Nepal, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Zambia

  • October 23, 2023

  • Calls for Applications


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The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 46 least developed countries. 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.

UNCDF invites regulated financial institutions (banks, insurance providers, microfinance institutions), regulated peer-to-peer lending providers, agent banking aggregators, mobile money providers and Fintech companies to respond to the Request for Applications (RFA) Gender-Smart Innovations to Increase Access to Finance and Digital Inclusion for Women.

The RFA seeks to support companies that are developing/scaling up gender-smart products with new technologies and digital solutions that accelerate the economic recovery after COVID-19 for women. It will support companies with grants coupled with technical assistance using data analytics and human-centric design principles to help financial service providers (FSPs) with digital transformation and the development of gender-smart products to further refine the customer value propositions for women.

The RFA is supported by the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO), and it is implemented by UNCDF, under its Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era strategy. The RFA aims to accelerate economic recovery after COVID-19 and promote economies and societies more inclusive and resilient to external shocks by increasing access to finance for women. Additionally, this RFA would help to identify FSPs with a clear path and potential to become FMO’s customers in the next 3-5 years as highlighted from the requirements. Hence further opportunities for collaboration with FMO could potentially emerge as a result of this RFA.

The applicants’ proposed interventions – irrespective of the country of affiliation – should deploy their gender-smart products and digital solutions in the target country/countries: Nepal, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Zambia. The selection of applications through the evaluation criteria specified below, will lead to final country selection.

Candidates can apply independently or in a consortium. Please verify the eligibility conditions in Section 3.1 of this RFA. Selected applicants will sign a Performance-Based Agreement (PBA) with UNCDF. The UNCDF contributions can be up to US$35,000 depending on the size and reach of the partner.

UNCDF will award up to 4 applicants (depending on the funding requested), who score the highest in accordance with the Evaluation Criteria as set forth in section 3.2, depending on the investment readiness level and outreach potential of the proposed solution.

Selected applicants will be expected to fund at least 30 percent of the total project cost in cash (for costs such as technical resources, staff, and operational expenses). It is important to note that selected applicants will receive and benefit from technical assistance services provided by UNCDF on data and analytics to support their efforts in meeting the needs of women with the proposed solutions.

The proposed solution must be implemented by December 2024.

Inquiries to this RFA may be submitted by email to For any email inquiries, please include in your subject line: RFA: Gender-Smart Innovations to Increase Access to Finance and Digital Inclusion for Women.

All applications must be submitted by 23:59 EST, the New York time zone on 30 October 2023 through the UNCDF e-investment platform.

The deadline for applications has been extended to 30 October from the original 6 October 2023 deadline. All applications must be submitted by 23:59 (EST, the New York time zone) on 30 October 2023 via APPLY.

Important dates

20 September 2023 Application window opens
30 October 2023 Questions will be answered until the application closing date
30 October 2023 Closing date for applications

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