United Nations Development Project (UNDP)
Posted Job
5 months ago

Technical Specialist (Digital Finance)


The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 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’s financing models work through three channels: inclusive digital economies, connecting individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyze participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; local development finance, that capacitates localities through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and investment finance, that provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilization. By strengthening how finance works for poor people at the household, small enterprise, and local infrastructure levels, UNCDF contributes to Sustainable Development Goal-SDG 1 on eradicating poverty and SDG 17 on the means of implementation. By identifying those market segments where innovative financing models can have transformational impact in helping to reach the last mile and address exclusion and inequalities of access, UNCDF contributes to a broad diversity of SDGs.

Since 2008, UNCDF has been supporting digital finance with significant success, with digital finance currently the largest part of its inclusive finance portfolio. This includes digital innovations linked to on an off-grid energy, agriculture, employment, health and transport. UNCDF is also host to the Secretariat of the Better than Cash Alliance, a partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth.

With 60 professionals with strong digital finance experience across the globe and with several hundred projects in digital on-going, UNCDF is one of the leading development agencies in digital finance with a mission and expertise to reach very low-income customers in some of the world’s most difficult markets. UNCDF’s digital team and resources are currently spread across several programmes and UNCDF is in the process of consolidating its financial and technical resources to create a comprehensive team of experts in various domains to drive its newly-launched Digital Finance strategy “Leaving no one behind in the digital era”

Based on this experience UNCDF started in 2017 to expand the scope of its programmatic agenda to go beyond digital finance. Through the “Leaving none behind in the digital era” strategy, UNCDF is supporting, through its digital finance interventions, the emergence of inclusive digital economies. The strategy recognizes that reaching the full potential of digital financial inclusion in support of the SDGs aligns with the vision of promoting digital economies for the following reasons:

  • 1) The value of DFS is not obvious, especially to poor and vulnerable populations, as it is not closely linked to their ability to respond to their specific constraints and needs around agriculture, education, health, energy and other key aspects of their daily lives.
  • 2) New innovative services should be developed to address these unmet needs. Innovation will not come from traditional providers but mainly from a range of new players (entrepreneurs, start-ups in various sectors, and platforms like Facebook, Grab, WeChat, etc.).

UNCDF’s ‘Leaving no one behind in the digital era’ strategy intends to move its focus only digitla finance (DF) to digital economies builds upon and constitutes a logical integration of UNCDF interventions in financial inclusion and digital, developed over many years. The legacy of UNCDF intervention programmes was built through a range of country/regional programmes and global thematic initiatives, which has established a very strong reputation for UNCDF vis-à-vis donors and peers.

UNCDF in Zambia

  • Since 2015, UNCDF has a local presence in Zambia, focused on implementation of projects that address the needs of the 40% financially excluded. These projects are grounded in digital solutions to improve financial inclusion, address energy and resource needs at household level, and improve accessibility to goods, services and markets that help them sustain their livelihoods or improve their lives.
  • UNCDF has provided a mix of grants and technical assistance to policymakers, financial service providers, civil society and users of digital finance in order to expand access to and usage of services that contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It has done this in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation, Comic Relief and Jersey Overseas Aid.
  • To contribute to the Government of Zambia’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy, UNCDF has worked with the following partners, among others: Bank of Zambia, ZICTA, Airtel, BongoHive, Fenix International, FINCA, Investrust Bank, Kazang, MTN, Zanaco? Zoona, FSDZ and Agrifin Accelerate. This work combines a mix of technical assistance and grants, according to the partners’ needs. It has included strategy frameworks and implementation, product design, agent network management, human centric design, pilots, public-private engagement, and others.
  • The goal of the program is to accelerate the development and financing of inclusive digital economies that support women, youth and MSMEs to enhance market participation, resulting in poverty reduction, improved livelihoods and economic growth.
  • In order to expand its work in Zambia UNCDF is looking for a Technical Specialist Digital Finance, who will have the responsibility for overseeing the work in Zambia. The position will directly report to the UNCDF Regional Digital Hub Manager for East and Southern Africa, P5 based in Kampala, Uganda and will receive technical input from other UNCDF colleagues on various domains (loan & guarantees, energy, water, agriculture, youth, women, refugees, MSMEs, etc.)

This position will be based in Lusaka, Zambia.

Duties and Responsibilities

1. Lead the Inclusive Digital Economies Programme and Team in Zambia and be responsible for the implementation of the strategy (30%)

  • Develop in-depth relationship and buy-in from stakeholders of various sectors (digital, finance, energy, agriculture, health, education, etc.) in Zambia at government, private & non-profit sectors & academia
  • Based on discussion with funders and input from stakeholders, update and win acceptance for the Zambia country strategy for Digital innovation & digital finance, identify priorities, strategies and key milestones to develop the Zambia market
  • Update UNCDF’s country strategy, develop detailed annual work plans and budgets. Submit quarterly reports.
  • Manage an empower a team of 4-6 colleagues with technical, investment, communication and administrative skills
  • Ensure proper planning, staffing and contracting through inputs and to the related plans and reports and monitoring.
  • Lead progress meetings for the Zambia projects.
  • Lead calls with funders and manage partner reporting.
  • Work closely with the Results Measurement Analyst to ensure the on-time and accurate reporting of results from partners and facilitating the annual survey to digital market growth.

2. Set-up a Loan and Guarantee Facility in Zambia and provide targeted technical assistance to selected partners and other stakeholders to ensure they have the necessary support to build successful financial and complementary non-financial services for youth, women and MSMEs, using digital as an accelerator when appropriate (30):

  • Work closely with the investment officer to set-up, develop and monitor a Loan Guarantee and Technical Assistance Facility for digitally enabled MSMEs and agent networks in Zambia
  • Grow a pipeline of investible projects for digitally-enabled MSMEs in finance, energy, water and agriculture for the Loan and Guarantee facility
  • Provide on-going technical assistance to partners on the development and/or integration of innovative products, services and tools to empower millions of people by equipping them to use innovative digital services in their daily lives and thus contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development
  • Provide advice as needed to other stakeholders, including central banks, to build overall awareness and acceptance of services
  • Promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country and investigate all possible avenues to accelerate the development of the sector
  • Assist partners in identifying opportunities with others, including recommending or fostering strategic, financial or technical partnerships.
  • Coordinate and closely monitor the activities of other Program partners
  • Challenge delivery models and strategies of some actors to increase the level of innovation and creativity in the country
  • In partnership with the UNCDF network of Global, Regional and Country Leads, develop and maintain partnerships with relevant global, regional and national stakeholders including the central banks, telecommunication companies, financial service providers and donors.
  • Build effective and efficient partnerships at the operational level with major donor agencies to coordinate financial inclusion, including financial literacy, activities in country

3. Support the development and execution of activities at the national level (ecosystem activities) in order to increase the level of knowledge of all stakeholders and support Zambia transition to a Digital Economy (15%):

  • Raise government skills and capacities around digital and support in mainstreaming digital into their national development plan
  • Develop a multi-year roadmap to support the digital transformation of Zambia and set the right priorities with all public, private and academia stakeholders
  • Leverage UNCDF Inclusive Digital Economy Scorecard (IDES) as a national tool to measure and track the development of an inclusive digital economy in Zambia
  • Support the development of a market research to collect data on the 12+ agent networks in Zambia (both DFS and non-DFS), including PAYGO energy networks, culminating in an Agent State of the Industry Report
  • Support the development of a study on the State of the Industry of PAYGO and MiniGrid in collaboration with relevant Association(s), including products available, costs, agent reach, customer reach etc.
  • Support the development of a product research support strategy for market research that supports pro-poor product development that can be implemented by partners, draft TORs, procure and manage consultants;

4. Generate, facilitate, and disseminate research and information sharing to ensure stakeholders are informed on current trends, best practices, market conditions, and special topics as needed (15%):

  • Collaborate with key partners and stakeholders for research and development of innovative, cutting-edge strategies and approaches to sharpen delivery of services
  • Conduct workshops on innovation in the supply of digital financial products,
  • Identify learning, training, and knowledge sharing opportunities for partners and key stakeholders and provide scholarships for attendance
  • Maintain regular contact with partners, identify issues and assist them in overcoming them
  • Review and respond to partner reports, ensuring partners are reporting accurately on activities/initiatives
  • Monitor progress under performance-based agreements, verify milestones and targets for disbursements
  • Seek opportunities for coordinating and co-funding projects with other funders, ensure the programme’s efforts complete those of other initiatives

5. Provides support to UNCDF management on corporate initiatives and activities, focusing on achieving the following results: (10%)

  • Grow UNCDF presence in Zambia by developing partnership with funders and raise funds to fully implement the “Leaving no one behind in the digital era” strategy in Zambia
  • Support UNCDF implementation in other countries
  • Develop and monitor Country annual work plan and budget
  • Provide inputs for UNCDF semi-annual reporting
  • Support Annual Providers Survey and IDES reports
  • Assist in implementation of mid-term and final evaluations of the programme
  • Support annual and cumulative UNCDF results analyses and substantive inputs into Unit work plan and UNCDF and FIPA Business Plans
  • As requested, assist in fundraising and relationship management with donors
  • Competencies

Core Competencies:

  • Innovation: Ability to make new and useful ideas work
  • Level 5: Creates new and relevant ideas and leads others to implement them
  • Leadership: Ability to persuade others to follow
  • Level 5: Plans and acts transparently, actively works to remove barriers
  • People Management: Ability to improve performance and satisfaction
  • Level 5: Models high professional standards and motivates excellence in others
  • Communication: Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform
  • Level 5: Gains trust of peers, partners, clients by presenting complex concepts in practical terms to others
  • Delivery: Ability to get things done while exercising good judgement
  • Level 5: Critically assesses value and relevance of existing policy / practice and contributes to enhanced delivery of products, services, and innovative solutions

Functional/Technical Competencies:

  • Project and Team Management: Level 4: Apply & Adapt: Contributes skills and knowledge with demonstrated ability to advance innovation and continuous improvement, in professional area of expertise
  • Stakeholder Advocacy and Coordination: Level 4: Apply & Adapt: Contributes skills and knowledge with demonstrated ability to advance innovation and continuous improvement, in professional area of expertise
  • Decision Making and Solutions: Level 4: Apply & Adapt: Contributes skills and knowledge with demonstrated ability to advance innovation and continuous improvement, in professional area of expertise
  • Innovation: Level 4: Apply & Adapt: Contributes skills and knowledge with demonstrated ability to advance innovation and continuous improvement, in professional area of expertise
  • Managing Complexity and Terms: Level 4: Apply & Adapt: Contributes skills and knowledge with demonstrated ability to advance innovation and continuous improvement, in professional area of expertise
  • Client Orientation: Level 4: Apply & Adapt: Contributes skills and knowledge with demonstrated ability to advance innovation and continuous improvement, in professional area of expertise
  • Required Skills and Experience


  • Masters degree or equivalent in technology, economics, public/business administration, social sciences or related discipline. A Bachelor’s Degree in these fields along with two additional years of experience is also acceptable.

Work Experience:

  • A minimum of five (5) years’ experience in progressively more responsible positions in the financial services and/or telecommunications field.
  • Atlleast three (3) years’ experience in the field of Digital Finances; Digital innovations or skills development in the digital era is highly preferable.
  • Demonstrable work-experience in managerial roles is considered a distinct advantage.
  • Previous relevant work experience in the region is considered a distinct advantage.


  • Fluency in English required (excellent comprehension, verbal & written communication skills)
  • Disclaimer

Important information for US Permanent Residents (‘Green Card’ holders):

  • Under US immigration law, acceptance of a staff position with UNDP, an international organization, may have significant implications for US Permanent Residents. UNDP advises applicants for all professional level posts that they must relinquish their US Permanent Resident status and accept a G-4 visa, or have submitted a valid application for US citizenship prior to commencement of employment.
  • UNDP is not in a position to provide advice or assistance on applying for US citizenship and therefore applicants are advised to seek the advice of competent immigration lawyers regarding any applications.

Applicant information about UNDP rosters:

Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.

Workforce diversity

UNDP is committed to achieving diversity within its workforce, and encourages

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