Since 2010, UNCDF has played a strong role in market development in the digital finance space and has significantly contributed to increasing access to finance for youth. As a result, as of June 2019, over 940,000 young people (47 percent women) have accessed financial and complementary non-financial services. Young people have saved over US$24 million with financial service providers. Over 390,000 young entrepreneurs have accessed US$76 million in loans.

Simultaneously, we also expanded our support to include digital financial services for smallholder farmers, women, families with children, pensioners, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). These efforts have led to creative approaches to the development of human-centric services and have fostered an innovation ecosystem around financial services.

Under the umbrella of the UNCDF ‘Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era’ strategy in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, we will mobilize partners and deploy our resources in four strategic workstreams:


  1. Win government support to craft policy and regulatory environments where digital solutions for youth can flourish.
  2. Ensure regulatory frameworks and policies are protective of youth clients in the digital era.
  3. Encourage the collection of age- and gender-disaggregated data in order to inform the development of pro-youth policies.
  4. Foster youth participation in policy discussion and regulatory development.


  1. Support market infrastructure projects (e.g., foundational ID, shared market infrastructure for e-payments, e-know‑your‑customer systems and credit reporting).
  2. Support inclusive and ubiquitous access to payment accounts for all, at an affordable cost.
  3. Encourage and support innovations and business models that advance access to digital financial services for youth.


  1. Support the development of ecosystems to accelerate the development of ideas and start-ups that produce job outcomes.
  2. Promote digital innovations for dignified and fulfilling jobs.
  3. Transform the way young people access learning and economic opportunities, as well as networks and financial services.
  4. Promote digital innovations that provide the same level of income and livelihood security for new jobs.
  5. Run accelerator programmes to empower young people to become agents of change in digital economies.
  6. Facilitate the dissemination of knowledge that can amplify the development of digital solutions for youth.


  1. Integrate financial and digital literacy into schools, universities, technical and vocational education and training centres, incubators and financial service providers.
  2. Equip organizations that are offering relevant education/training to youth and SMEs with digital solutions where relevant.
  3. Train youth to leverage social networks and platforms to build their networks, access skills and develop business opportunities

YouthStart by the Numbers


Youth accessing financial and non-financial services


Saved at FSPs


Loaned to young entrepreneurs

Stories from the Field

Our Team

Dakar, Senegal

Maria Perdomo
Youth Finance Global Specialist

Ata Cisse
Youth Finance Regional Specialist

Arianna Gasparri
Youth Finance Advisor