The Financial Inclusion Fund provides technical assistance for microfinance institutions in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific; With an additional €4.8 million pledged by Luxembourg over the next three years, the fund’s size has increased to €11.5 million; Building on remarkable results, the fund will continue to help micro and small businesses in vulnerable communities to access financial services.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, represented by Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs Franz Fayot, and Minister of Finance Yuriko Backes, has pledged an additional €4.8 million to EIB Global’s Financial Inclusion Fund, bringing the fund’s total size to €11.5 million. The contribution agreement was signed on 18 July 2023 at the EIB headquarters in Luxembourg.
The Financial Inclusion Fund will continue providing support to financial service providers that focus on vulnerable groups such as young people, women and rural populations in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. The fund was launched in 2019 to continue the long-standing partnership between the EIB and the Luxembourg Ministries of Finance and Foreign and European Affairs in the area of microfinance.
The Financial Inclusion Fund seeks to strengthen the capacity of the EIB’s existing and prospective microfinance counterparts and reach out to typically disadvantaged groups of the population. Its efforts are helping to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, notably targeting SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
Since its inception, the fund has provided 32 capacity-building grants to a range of inclusive finance stakeholders in 25 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific as well as in the EU Southern Neighbourhood. These grants have been used for a variety of projects, from connecting microentrepreneurs and small businesses with funding via digital platforms, to empowering female business owners, improving processes for loan applications and for releasing funds, and offering savings accounts to make clients more resilient to different types of market shocks.
The fund’s ongoing operations are expected to achieve further impressive results. Some examples include training or coaching over 130 000 staff members and clients of microfinance institutions in the targeted regions, providing access to finance to 600 000 people in remote and rural parts of Zambia, rolling out digital banking services to thousands of people in sub-Saharan Africa, and enabling 200 000 female microentrepreneurs to access and use financial products.
Future projects made possible thanks to the contribution signed today will focus on promoting the economic empowerment of women (50% of projects will be aimed at gender and social inclusion), encouraging climate action and environmental sustainability by supporting sustainable agriculture, and advancing digitalisation in the world’s least developed and low- and middle-income countries.
EIB President Werner Hoyer said: “Finance is a critical enabler of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. To accelerate progress, we need more innovative models, particularly in the areas of women’s empowerment and climate action. The Financial Inclusion Fund is a powerful tool that allows the European Investment Bank to provide crucial support to microfinance institutions around the world and to deliver development impact. I am grateful for the long-standing support of the Luxembourg government in this field. The Financial Inclusion Fund is a testament to our shared commitment to using finance to achieve the SDGs.”
Yuriko Backes, Luxembourg Minister of Finance and EIB governor said: “With a contribution of €4.8 million to the Financial Inclusion Fund, Luxembourg aims to support meaningful action to foster economic empowerment and improve the lives of individuals and communities worldwide. Building upon our previous efforts, we will continue to prioritise the delivery of technical assistance through the fund, targeting key areas crucial for sustainable development, such as women’s empowerment and gender equality, climate and environmental protection, and digitalisation and food security, among others. This renewed contribution serves as another testament to the strong collaboration between Luxembourg and the European Investment Bank in driving finance for change, further solidifying our commitment to creating positive and lasting impact.”
Franz Fayot, Luxembourg Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs said: “Providing formal financial services in a socially responsible and financially sustainable way can make a substantial contribution to poverty reduction and job creation in low- and middle-income countries. Yet, the lack of accessible and affordable financial services, particularly in remote rural areas, remains a major challenge. In this regard, the Financial Inclusion Fund is a key instrument to help overcome barriers to accessing impactful financial services. Its activities are making a considerable contribution towards achieving the SDGs.”
EIB Vice President Kris Peeters said: “Luxembourg is a key partner for the EIB and one of the largest donors to EIB Trust Funds, in a wide range of areas, such as financial inclusion, as well as climate action, economic resilience and infrastructure. Our joint collaboration under the Financial Inclusion Fund is delivering concrete results on the ground, helping thousands of vulnerable people who lack access to finance. The additional contribution from Luxembourg to the FIF is an occasion to celebrate its success so far, and of course aim higher, to do more and better, ensuring a better future for marginalised groups including women”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of European Investment Bank (EIB).