Expression Of Interest: The Gambia Fintech Challenge

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs). 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.

UNCDF is leveraging its expertise from 2 Global flagship programs for The Gambia: The Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility (LoCAL) which combines performance-based climate resilience grants (PBCRGs) with technical and capacity-building support to provide demonstration effects to trigger further flows for local adaptation, including national fiscal transfers and global climate finance for local authorities, through their central governments; and YouthStart (YS) which supports youth financial inclusion to better manage school-to-work transitions and access economic opportunities and to increase access to finance for low-income youth in LDCs, by developing approaches to offer youth tailored financial and non-financial services. To date, through YouthStart (YS), a regional pilot in Sub-Saharan Africa, UNCDF granted access to savings accounts to over 880,00 young people (of which 47 percent are young women and girls), trained over 1 million youth in financial education; and provided loans to over 282,000 young entrepreneurs (54 percent young women). These young clients have accumulated over US$24 million in savings while the outstanding loan portfolio to young entrepreneurs is US$43 million.

UNCDF is bringing this experience to The Gambia to implement the “Jobs, skills and finance (JSF) for women and youth” programme funded by the 11th European Development Fund. This programme will contribute to stabilizing the economic, social and security situation of the country during the democratic transition by facilitating social inclusion and employment of the youth and women, with a specific emphasis on promoting gender equality and addressing climate change. It will do so through two components:

  • Component 1: Job creation for the youth, women and local communities and equal access to employable skills development.
  • Component 2: Improved access to finance.

Under component 2 of the JSF programme in the Gambia UNCDF has been actively working to increase financial inclusion through piloting different approaches combining financial and complementary non-financial services while using digital as an accelerator. UNCDF is addressing financial inclusion as a key contributing factor to unlock the potential of vulnerable segments such as youth and women in driving sustainable and inclusive development. Improved financial capability and access to financial services have the potential to integrate youth and women as drivers of innovative economic growth and job creation in their own communities.

Moreover, UNCDF believes that there are ways in which we can use technology as a more efficient delivery channel for financial and non-financial services. Technology holds indeed some promise to help contribute to innovative and efficient solutions. The spread of connectivity enables populations to connect as never before. Broadband enables youth to seek and receive information to connect with employment opportunities or build a business. Smart technology can also offer lower cost methods of training and education online. The combination of smart technology and connectivity offers an opportunity to bundles the services needed: information, training, remittances, payments, savings and credit.

The Gambia, however, present unique challenges to financial inclusion, in particular, to fintech-driven innovations. Geographically concentrated economic activities, limited economic infrastructure, vulnerability to external shocks make economic progress difficult. Among other challenges lack of institutions and the infrastructure required to offer suitable financial services to people living in rural areas. Therefore, the potential of digital technology solutions is even more relevant in this context, where it can help reach the last mile and overcome the specific challenges of remoteness and limited physical infrastructure. In addition, the cash-based nature of The Gambia economy is highlighted even more by the COVID-19 pandemic. With social distancing measures, FSPs have difficulties reaching out to rural communities, and businesses are struggling to keep a form a continuity and clients.


A tentative calendar of the selection process is as follow:

  1. June 8, 2020: Launch the request for Expression of Interest to participate in the FinTech Challenge
  2. June 15, 2020: deadline to submit questions to [email protected] mentioning the subject of the message “FINTECH CHALLENGE “;
  3. June 23, 2020: deadline for submission of the expression of interest to [email protected] mentioning the subject of the message “Name of your organization + FINTECH CHALLENGE”
  4. June 24 – July 10: Review of the applications, ensuring that all questions and requests for documents are duly completed; shortlist of candidates.
  5. July 15, final selection of the applicants to participate in Phase 1 of the Fintech Challenge.

Only complete applications will be considered. Please make sure that ALL annexes are submitted


Original Source : UNCDF