The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 26 October 2021 to accelerate women’s financial inclusion by improving access and increasing usage of quality financial services in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region.
EBRD and AFI will leverage on their extensive institutional knowledge and resources to strengthen existing gender-inclusive finance policies, as well as the implementation capacities of current and prospective AFI members in the region. Through knowledge exchange and peer learning, the two institutions will support financial regulators in EECA to identify and disseminate successful international practices in gender responsive public policies and initiatives for financial inclusion and gender diversity.
These include integration of gender dimensions into financial inclusion agendas and frameworks, providing support to AFI members in establishing sex-disaggregated data collection and reporting, as well as deepening cooperation in implementing gender sensitive and transformative National Financial Inclusion Strategies.
The EBRD is well positioned to help achieve these goals. The EBRD has provided over EUR 600 mln of financing to the financial intermediaries for on-lending to women-led SMEs across 24 economies including Central Asia and Mongolia, and supported both financial intermediaries and final beneficiaries through various forms of non-financial assistance. In addition, the EBRD has entered into policy dialogues with various stakeholders in Central Asia and Mongolia to encourage the creation sex-disaggregated SME databases, a vital tool in identifying gaps in finance. Through the singing of the Memorandum of Understanding, the EBRD hopes to improve efficiency in achieving these objectives and leverage AFI’s extensive expertise and network of financial regulators.
On the partnership, EBRD Managing Director of Economics, Policy and Governance Christoph Denk said: “Together, we have the power to create lasting impact for vulnerable groups in our region by building inclusive and gender-responsive financial systems”.
Reflecting on the effects of the global pandemic on the most vulnerable, AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig highlighted a potential threat that it can undo years of financial inclusion. “For our recovery and rebuilding of our economies to be truly inclusive and sustainable, we need to integrate gender sensitivities beyond COVID-19 policies. We are pleased to have found a likeminded partner in EBRD and look forward to working with our members more women to formal financial services”, Dr. Alfred Hannig added.
The collaboration, aims to scale efforts that reduce the gender gap in access to financial services for women within the framework of the Denarau Action Plan (DAP) on women’s financial inclusion, endorsed by the AFI network in 2016. The DAP aims to accelerate the progress in gender inclusive finance and is supported by a pledge by AFI members to work towards halving the financial inclusion gender gap across their jurisdictions as well as increase their gender diversity.
The synergy of EBRD and AFI will contribute to national institutional capacity building within the region that ensures access to gender–inclusive and sustainable financial services and support collaboration with stakeholders and strategic knowledge partnerships.
The EBRD is a multilateral bank that promotes the development of the private sector and entrepreneurial initiative in 38 economies across three continents. The Bank is owned by 69 countries as well as the EU and the EIB. EBRD investments are aimed at making the economies in its regions competitive, inclusive, well-governed, green, resilient and integrated: www.ebrd.com
AFI is the world’s leading organization on financial inclusion policy and regulation. Over 100 member institutions make up the AFI network including central banks, ministries of finance and other financial regulators from 89 developing and emerging countries. AFI works on empowering policymakers to increase access and usage of quality financial services for the underserved through formulation, implementation and global advocacy of sustainable and inclusive policies: www.afi-global.org