Financial sector development – financial services for all

An African woman sits at a table on which several mobile phones are lying and transfers numbers into a table.
Digital technologies play a central role in the development of the financial sector in developing countries. © John O’Bryan, USAID

A stable and efficient financial system is central to a well-functioning national economy.  Providing poor households, smallholder farmers and small enterprises with improved access to financial services can boost their involvement in economic life and reduce their vulnerability.

The SDC’s focus

The SDC has been active in financial sector development since the 1970s as an important strategy in poverty reduction. It focuses its efforts on promoting access to a range of client-centric, responsible and sustainable financial services for low-income households, smallholder farmers and small enterprises. The SDC also works to improve the financial inclusion of poorer households, i.e. their integration into the country's existing financial sector.

The SDC has long considered the promotion of savings to be a key first step in the financial integration of people with low incomes. It is therefore increasingly focusing on developing markets for agricultural insurance and disaster insurance schemes together with global reinsurance companies in order to break through this final barrier in financial integration.

To this end, the SDC prioritises the following:

  • For the clients: training courses for SDC target groups in general financial education with the aim of ensuring savings, insurance and credits and, thereby, also making access to institutional financial services easier.
  • For the service providers: support for financial institutions that have the capacity and willingness to build up their range of services for SDC target groups over the long term and in a cost-effective manner.
  • In terms of bolstering the financial sector, the SDC supports what are known as financial market infrastructures – a network of financial institutions or training centres, for example.
  • If certain conditions are restricting the positive development of a country's financial sector, the SDC relies on the support of and works together with legislative, regulatory and supervisory institutions.
  • The SDC plays an active role in international centres of expertise and networks such as the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF). Such organisations also help promote innovations and integrate relatively new topics such as digital technologies. The aims are to improve international coordination and harmonisation, exchange knowledge and experience, and support global and regional networks.

Background

A well-functioning financial sector is central to a country's economic development.  It offers the opportunity to mobilise savings to make productive investments. Providing private households and farmers as well as businesses with secure investment opportunities, access to payment transaction systems, credit and insurance services is essential in order to reduce income risks, achieve a more effective cushion against economic and market fluctuations and save for investments. Such investments can provide the basic foundation for an independent existence or for children's education. Crop and disaster risk insurance help smallholder farmers reduce their risks, which in turn increases their food security. An efficient financial sector accessible to all segments of the population has the effect of reducing poverty, both at the private household level and from the standpoint of the national economy. It also stimulates economic growth at all levels.

Current challenges

At present, poor people in many developing countries are largely excluded from the traditional financial system. They cannot open a savings account at a bank or apply for a small loan, for example. This is particularly true of rural regions, where the majority of the population have no access to such formal financial services.  Typical reasons for this deficiency are a lack of sales and service offices, high costs, insufficient infrastructure, services that are not geared to specific needs, and inadequate legal and regulatory frameworks.

As a result, poorer members of the population often have to resort to relatives, friends and other informal money lenders.  That is why the SDC works in financial sector development – to create enduring financial services for broad sections of the population who have so far had only limited, if any, access to such services.

The SDC also invests in new partnerships with the aim of attracting socially responsible commercial investors and works with other partners such as (local) commercial banks, insurance companies, leasing agencies and venture capital providers.

Microfinance

Financial services for poor sections of the population and microenterprises who have no regular access to the services offered by formal financial institutions.

Small enterprise finance

Small enterprises are of major importance in achieving broad-based development and employment. Yet often such enterprises have no access to services tailored to their needs.

Rural finance

Despite the major role they play in economic development, rural regions suffer from a massive deficit of financial services.

Micro-insurance

People in developing and transition countries tend to be exposed to a wide range of risks, such as disease, harvest failure, loss of income and theft, yet they have virtually no formal insurance protection.

Current projects

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Production des Connaissances et Appui Institutionnel pour une gestion intégrée des Ressources en Eau au Tchad - ResEau

01.06.2024 - 31.05.2028

Le Tchad subit fortement les effets du changement climatique avec des pluviométries aléatoires. Le sous-sol du Tchad dispose d’un important potentiel en eau. Faute de compétences nationales, ces ressources en eau restent très peu mobilisées. La DDC renforce, à travers ce projet, les compétences et les connaissances nationales pour favoriser une gestion durable de ces ressources et contribue ainsi à la résilience du Tchad face aux changements climatiques.


Futuro Microbank

15.05.2024 - 31.12.2027

The microfinance institution Futuro Mcb, SA currently provides financial services (loans, savings, insurance) to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) mainly in and around Nampula city. Switzerland will continue to support Futuro with a grant for technical assistance that will help the bank to expand its impact by providing financial services to more low-income entrepreneurs in more regions in Northern Mozambique, thus allowing them to enhance their income and create more jobs.


Good Financial Governance (GFG)

01.05.2024 - 30.04.2027

The project contributes to strengthen Tanzania’s public financial system, a central element to cement its economic status. The 3rd phase aims at expanding the mobilization of domestic revenue and improving the government’s expenditure control. It shall strengthen interinstitutional mechanisms for tax data exchange, enhance the audit system, and improve public procurement. At policy level, it seeks to develop an evidence-based and gender responsive fiscal strategy for better public service delivery to benefit the population, especially the poor.


Integrated Water Resources Management in Kosovo (IWRM-K)

01.05.2024 - 30.04.2029

Switzerland assists water sector related governments, civil society and private sector stakeholders in Kosovo in the development/implementation of a national integrated and sustainable water resources management framework. Support activities combined with capacity development and awareness building will contribute to enhanced conservation, protection, quality and equitable distribution of water resources. Thus the project also contributes to good governance, reduced risks of internal and transboundary water-related conflicts, the mitigation of climate change impact as well to enhanced the health of the population.


Scaling Up Youth Employment in Agriculture Initiative

01.05.2024 - 30.04.2028

In Zambia and Zimbabwe, due to a mismatch between the skills they have and those in demand, youth cannot access or create economic opportunities and overlook those available. The project builds skills and matches youth with firms, markets and finance to create more and better (self)-employment in agri-food, renewable energy and emerging sectors, contributing to Swiss priorities on human and economic development and climate change. This is a contribution implemented by SNV.


Progressing towards Universal Health Coverage in Moldova

01.05.2024 - 30.06.2027

Switzerland supports Moldova’s efforts to achieve better health of the population, through ensuring universal access to affordable medical services of good quality. In its 2nd (exit) phase, the project will accompany the health authorities in advancing health financing and service delivery reforms, improving the efficiency and responsiveness of the healthcare system, promoting transparency and accountability in the health sector, and empowering service users and civil society organizations to oversee healthcare services, their quality and resource allocation.


From Education to Employment (E2E)

01.05.2024 - 30.04.2028

To raise labour market participation and address the growing workforce shortage affecting the Serbian economy, in partnership with the Serbian Ministry of Labour, Swiss approaches and instruments for labour-market insertion will be adopted and scaled by key labour-market actors from the central and local Government, civil society and the private sector. Serbian companies will be capacitated to train their workforce independently and sustainably, and to fill vacancies through improved job matching services.


Citizen Participation and Conflict Prevention programme (PCPC)

01.05.2024 - 31.12.2029

Rwanda has achieved notable progress with regard to socioeconomic development and improved social cohesion. However, the role of citizens in decision-making and in holding leaders to account remains insufficient affecting the sustainability of results. This programme will increase the capability of the 30 districts in Rwanda to properly engage citizens in decision-making processes and will strengthen local conflict-resolution mechanisms, hence contributing to improved accountability and lasting social cohesion.


Swiss Emergency Response Team (SERT)

16.04.2024 - 31.12.2027

Several Swiss organizations active in Mozambique together with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) decided to join forces to be organized in a way, that we all together have fast and unbureaucratic access for doing the rapid needs assessment together and provide immediate response support where possible in Mozambique. Since 2021, the Swiss Emergency Response Team (SERT) organized several trainings in crisis management, rapid needs assessment and cash/voucher-based approaches for the staff members of the organizations. Doing the crisis management and rapid need assessment together creates synergy and complementarity among partners rather than each partner planning a response at the same place. A coordinated, locally led intervention will also yield the data necessary to justify an appeal to SDC’s emergency fund in time, should it be opportune.


Building Damage Assessment in Albania

01.04.2024 - 31.12.2027

The devastating earthquake in 2019 revealed that Albania has a weak policy and institutional framework and low public awareness on building damage assessment. The Swiss project will support Albania in strengthening its disaster risk management institutions at national and municipal level to provide sustainable and effective building damage assessment services, leading to safer living conditions and a more disaster resilient business environment.


Anti-corruption and Accountability

01.04.2024 - 31.12.2027

Building on the results achieved in the first phase, Switzerland will contribute to reduce corruption in Mozambique by (1) improving and strengthening legal institutions and the judicial framework (2) strengthening anticorruption institutions to effectively tackle corruption, economic crime and the recovery, management of stolen assets and (3) supporting civil society organisations at national and local level in the fight against corruption. 


Strengthened and Informative Migration Systems (SIMS) Phase II

01.04.2024 - 31.03.2029

Switzerland is interested in ensuring that international migration is regular, secure, respects human dignity and the rights of migrants. The project will institutionalise well tested awareness mechanisms on the perils of irregular migration and enhance further public and private capacities to deliver services to potential migrants. The intervention contributes to Switzerland’s dialogue on safe, orderly and regular migration at national and global levels.

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