UNCDF has been present in Sierra Leone since 1983, supporting local economic development initiatives and providing assistance to financial sector for financial inclusion.
Today, 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.
The West Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Programme for Fragile and Conflict Affected States (WA-DFIP-FCAS)
Through financial inclusion, UNCDF is implementing the West Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Programme for Fragile and Conflict Affected States (WA-DFIP-FCAS), which works with digital delivery of financial services unlocking productivity and investment, reducing poverty, empowering women, and helping build stronger institutions with less corruption—while providing a profitable, sustainable business opportunity for financial service providers.
UNCDF also provides resident technical assistance to the Central Bank, Bank of Sierra Leone to draft and launch the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion 2017 – 2020. Without access to finance and ability to borrow Sierra Leoneans cannot engage or grow economic activities. This situation jeopardizes efforts to improve incomes and reduce poverty. Consequently, there is a need to expand financial services especially to women, youth and micro, small and medium enterprises.
The “Digital Financial Services" Project
The “Digital Financial Services” project, administered by UNCDF and supported by the IBSA Fund, aims to expand digital financial services among women, youth, micro, small and medium enterprises. The expected impact of the project will is supporting resilient and inclusive economic growth through provision of digital financial services which are available, accessible and affordable to all Sierra Leoneans and MSMEs. This will contribute to the achievement of Sierra Leone’s Medium Term National Development Plan, Sustainable Development Goals and national financial inclusion goals through digital financial services.
Strengthening Domestic Resources Mobilisation for SDGs Financing in Sierra Leone
As Sierra Leone pushes towards SDG achievement by 2030, it is crucial to leverage all sources of development finance, including domestic resources. The fiscal space of the country is severely constrained. Low volume of revenue collection limits available government resources to invest in Sierra Leone’s 2019 Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP), which is anchored on the SDGs. Raising more revenue is therefore one of the highest priorities for the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL). UNCDF in partnership with UNDP is implementing a project to strengthen domestic resource mobilisation for the government of Sierra Leone.
This Joint Programme (JP) on SDGs is designed to realize two activities: 1) enhanced government revenue collection, and 2) increased domestic capital accumulation with expanded financial inclusion. It will focus on removing policy, institutional, informational, and access barriers, while facilitating strong governance and coordination mechanisms among government, private sector, and civil society actors. It will support development of a gender responsive fiscal strategy that promotes women’s contributions to the local economy. On many levels, this JP is a powerful means of enhancing domestic ownership of development finance.
Freetown Blue Peace Initiative
UNCDF is in partnership with Freetown City Council (FCC - the municipal government of the city of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, established in 1893) to enable its access to market financing for its development plan “Transform Freetown”, thereby contributing to transforming the City of Freetown for the benefit of Freetown’s residents. UNCDF and FCC will partner through the Blue Peace Financing initiative set up within the framework of UNCDF partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Geneva Water Hub.
In collaboration with Freetown City Council to develop alternative sources of revenues, UNCDF is funding a project to construct reliable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (WASH) as an extension of delivering safe, affordable, sustainable water to the residents while at the same time demonstrating a successful model for financing sustainable water production and consumption.