Press Release

UNCDF and UNDP commit to advancing inclusive digital economy, digital financial skills and financing for SDGs in Bangladesh

31 August 2022

A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will support efforts to build an inclusive digital economy in Bangladesh through interventions in policy and regulation, innovation, infrastructure and skills.

Photo: © Photo Credit: UNCDF

UNCDF and UNDP will focus on supporting the development of digital and financial skills of people excluded from the digital revolution, strengthening the digital financial services ecosystem and leveraging innovative financing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Bangladesh.

Signed by UNCDF Executive Secretary, Ms Preeti Sinha, and UNDP acting Resident Representative, Ms Nguyen Thi Ngoc Van, the MoU builds on the cooperation between UNCDF and UNDP–a2i programme. The MoU was signed in the presence of Dr Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, a2i Project Director (Joint Secretary), Mr Anir Chowdhury, a2i Policy Advisor and Ms Maria Perdomo, UNCDF Regional Coordinator for Asia.

Under the MoU, the organizations will collaborate and leverage the UNCDF financing instruments such as grants, reimbursable grants, loans and guarantees to provide seed funding to investments for enterprises deemed too small or risky by traditional investors.

Ms Preeti Sinha, UNCDF Executive Secretary said: “We believe UNCDF, a2i and UNDP are catering to a common goal to achieve the inclusive growth of society by strengthening innovative micro-savings, digital access and digital finance. Other countries should learn from Bangladesh’s development experience and knowledge sharing in financial development in the last couple of years. In Bangladesh, we are committed to continuing our work on digital financing to support an inclusive digital economy in the country."

Ms Nguyen Thi Ngoc Van, UNDP acting Resident Representative said: "Bangladesh is a poster child in many areas of development. UNDP sees so much potential in this partnership as sound cooperation is essential to make this happen. We do not want to stop here; we want to replicate our initiatives in several other countries."

Dr Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, a2i Project Director said: "We are moving to Smart Bangladesh after successfully passing the Digital Bangladesh vision. The MoU between UNDP and UNCDF and collaboration with a2i will strengthen our relationship and joint interventions on the rights and access to digital finance of marginalised people, especially women entrepreneurs."

Ms Maria Perdomo, UNCDF Regional Coordinator for Asia, said: “UNCDF is pleased to enter this MoU with UNDP-a2i programme. Together, we are a stronger force to broaden and deepen access to digital financial services in Bangladesh with a focus on those who need it most. Using a market systems development approach, UNCDF is committed to building inclusive digital economies that accelerate sustainable development, leveraging the UNCDF financial offerings.”

Mr Anir Chowdhury, a2i's Policy Adviser said: “The a2i Digital Financial Services team works with UNCDF on mobilising domestic savings to finance SDG infrastructure in Bangladesh and citizen-centric green financing solutions. In partnership with UNCDF, a2i has recently launched the Financial Innovation Lab Bangladesh—FinLab BD—which will provide the necessary support to develop fintech-focused start-ups that can solve the financial challenges of the marginalised people. Moreover, more than 50,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have been provided with online digital financial literacy courses by ekShop with support from UNCDF. To achieve the vision of a high-income country by 2041, we need to focus on skills by reducing the digital divide."

UNCDF and UNDP–a2i programme have been jointly implementing innovative initiatives for expanding financial inclusion in Bangladesh since 2016. These projects include mobilizing domestic micro-savings for SDG-positive green infrastructure investments, leveraging digital finance infrastructure, providing digital financial literacy training for MSMEs and launching FinLab BD.

UN entities involved in this initiative

United Nations Capital Development Fund

Goals we are supporting through this initiative