New UNCDF Programme to Boost Financial Inclusion in the ASEAN Region

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New UNCDF Programme to Boost Financial Inclusion in the ASEAN Region

‘Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations’ or SHIFT is a new UNCDF programme designed as a regional financial-market facilitation, technical assistance and funding facility to be implemented with a budget of USD 26 million to be invested over 6 years. It aims to facilitate the transition, by the year 2020, of at least six million low-income people in the ASEAN region, from unregulated to regulated higher value financial services so they can increase their productive investments, consumption stability and asset ownership. SHIFT’s market transformational interventions include improved data and knowledge, better investment climate and targeted policies to accelerate financial inclusion, and more capable and mobile human resources.

Facilitating greater financial inclusion by SHIFT will offer individuals and enterprises greater protection, choice and reliability through regulated financial services. Additionally, national financial systems, particularly those of LDCs in ASEAN will have more possibilities to capture domestic resources through savings and remittances and increase access to domestic investment for growth.

“UNCDF believes that the programme will contribute to ASEAN member state governments in achieving their goals of reducing poverty, vulnerability and reducing inequality in this region, that is set to experience continued economic growth. We think a regional programme such as SHIFT is particularly relevant in the context of greater regional economic integration and the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the need to address the disparities between and within the member states to spread the benefits of a common market more equitably across all nations, especially the less developed members including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV)” said Mr. Feisal Hussain, Senior Regional Technical Advisor, Inclusive Finance at UNCDF.

In supporting efforts to address the high levels of financial exclusion and use of unregulated financial mechanisms in ASEAN, the Australian Government has recently made an initial contribution of USD 2.52 million to kick-start SHIFT. The total financial resources raised for the programme, which includes seed-funding from UNCDF currently amount to a total of USD 3.7 million. “The approach taken by SHIFT in combining direct impact interventions through technical and financial assistance to financial and support service providers and policy makers in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and lower Middle Income Countries (MICs) in ASEAN, with those that transform systemic market constraints and opportunities to contribute to system-wide change over the medium to long-term is an important one” said Mr Michael Wilson, Minister-Counsellor (Mekong and Regional) DFAT.

The programme concept was built on the recommendations received during a consultation with market-leaders in financial inclusion and on further assessment of the constraints and opportunities in small-scale financial systems in the region. The outcome report and video from the consultation meeting can be accessed online.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- About UNCDF

UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries. It creates new opportunities for poor people and their small businesses by increasing access to microfinance and investment capital. UNCDF focuses on Africa and the poorest countries of Asia, with a special commitment to countries emerging from conflict or crisis. It provides seed capital – grants and loans – and technical support to help microfinance institutions reach more poor households and small businesses, and local governments finance the capital investments – water systems, feeder roads, schools, irrigation schemes – that will improve poor peoples’ lives. UNCDF programmes help to empower women, and are designed to catalyze larger capital flows from the private sector, national governments and development partners, for maximum impact toward the Millennium Development Goals.

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