UNCDF has been present in Benin since 1981, intervening over the past three decades with projects aimed at reinforcing the decentralization process, strengthening national capacities to support local economic development, and improving food security.
Today, UNCDF offers catalytic finance models that unlock public and private resources in “last mile” environments, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.
Benin was the first country in Africa to implement the Local Climate Adaptive Living Faciluty (LoCAL). First piloted in three communes of Atacora-Donga, in Northern Region, additional communes joined with the co-financing from the Government of Benin. The National Fund for Environment and Climate was nominated as Benin’s national implementing entity to pursue accreditation with the Green Climate Fund (GCF), with a view to scaling up LoCAL. LoCAL in Benin as repeatedly demonstrated its effectiveness in channelling international climate adaptation finance to the most remote areas and the most vulnerable people in the world. The Fonds National pour l’Environnement et le Climat (FNEC) was the first national implementing entity directly engaged in LoCAL accredited by the GCF. Following its accreditation, the FNEC submitted a concept note to the GCF to expand LoCAL to 30 communes over the next five years and is expected to begin work on the full funding proposal in 2021.
UNCDF has a deep history of working towards advancing digital financial inclusion and promoting inclusive digital economies in Benin. In partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, UNCDF worked in Benin to deploy a market development approach to support digital financial inclusion. Over the five year period of our work in Benin (2015-2019), our work-stream involved supporting digital finance in a variety of areas: digital infrastructure, policy and regulations, as well as supply side and demand side challenges. By the end of the five year period, usage of digital financial services increased from 2% to 40%.
UNCDF quickly pivoted to deploy its tools and services in support of LDCs in their response to COVID-19, while continuing to provide essential contributions to SDG achievement, in response to the pandemic. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, UNCDF launched a request for applications (RFA) for innovative digital solutions to support the resilience of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in West Africa, including Benin. The selection and support of Benin-based KkiaPay--an aggregation and facilitation service for remote digital payments--would support MSME and customers contending with the COVID-19 crisis and its after-effects.