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