UNCDF: South-South & Triangular Cooperation Featured Partner


The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) works towards a world where the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are able to access and leverage the development impact of capital to enable sustainable and inclusive economic growth and achieve Sustainable Development Goals. To realise such vision, UNCDF mainstreams South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) in its Strategic Framework (2022-2025) as a mode of implementation to unlock public and private finance for the poor by:

  • Helping regional groups (such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Southern African Development Community, the West African Economic and Monetary Union, and the Pacific Small Island Developing States) expand the reach of financial inclusion, including through multi-country approaches to remittances, data and analytics, refugees;
  • Facilitating knowledge exchanges on issues including reaching out to un- and under-banked populations; applying digital finance solutions; and moving from cash to electronic payments; and
  • Bringing together policymakers, experts, local authorities, and the private sector to shift resource allocation dynamics in favour of subnational levels for action on, for instance, local climate adaptation; municipal finance; and local infrastructure.

As part of its global initiatives, UNCDF brings together a community of member states that define and collectively agree on national priorities through a Global South-led participatory process, thereby putting Southern perspectives at the centre of devising strategies to boost opportunities for and utilization for local economic development, access climate finance and promote regional and pro-poor market development approaches to financial inclusion.

ILO’s International Training Centre (ITC-ILO)

UNCDF, therefore, serves as a convener for the LDCs to exchange ideas and share best practices to tackle their unique challenges to support their path towards graduation by co-creating solutions on local transformative finance, inclusive digital economies and innovative investment finance to eradicate poverty and reach sustainable development. Some of these initiatives include:

Local Finance Initiative (LFI)

LFI is an investment mechanism that enables LDCs to unlock the flow of domestic capital to invest in sustainable development. It has been supporting countries in the global South to implement systems that foster socioeconomic transformation and encourage cooperation among countries in different regions. LFI provides technical support and catalytic seed funding to develop transformative investments to increase the production capacity of both the public and private actors. The financial support provided catalyses additional funding from both the public and private sectors to speed up socio-economic transformation.

LFI has provided support to develop South-South cross-border markets that facilitate bilateral trade between countries in different regions, for example, four cross-border markets in the Kigoma Region in Tanzania that assist in the aggregation and storage of agricultural produce and facilitate trade and the movement of goods and services between Tanzania and Burundi.

Furthermore, LFI provides capacity strengthening to address regional challenges that hinder trade among countries. For example, LFI has supported countries in West Africa (i.e., The Gambia, Guinea and Senegal) to enhance capacity and South-South collaboration to identify opportunities and support local government authorities in developing bankable projects. The catalytic investments made in LFI countries have been replicated from one region to another, and the success stories and key lessons have been shared with other developing countries.

Leveraging Digital Finance to increase resilience in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries

As part of its global Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era strategy, UNCDF developed an innovative programme across ACP countries with support from the European Union to contribute to the deployment of digital finance solutions at the scale and speed necessary to deepen financial inclusion and accelerate economic recovery from COVID-19, as well as make economies and societies more resilient to external shocks.

By working with key counterparts and champions from select line ministries, the programme enhances integration of Southern perspectives by helping to convene events where champions can speak and exchange experiences from across countries and regions. To this end, the programme helps peer-learning about positive contributions that digital finance and innovations can make on economic sectors with high growth potential. Champions are also invited to take part in local, regional and international forums to foster cross-regional learning. Collaboration with the Better than Cash Alliance (BTCA), hosted by UNCDF, will be sought for knowhow and technology transfer among members of the Alliance.

FIKRA Islamic Fintech Programme

The FIKRA Islamic Fintech Accelerator Programme (FIKRA) is a joint initiative by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) and UNCDF. The objective is to further enhance the Islamic capital market (ICM) ecosystem in Malaysia by identifying and scaling innovative fintech solutions. FIKRA supports the growth of innovative Islamic fintech solutions through structured mentorship, access to a network of industry and other domain experts, relevant regulatory guidance and engagement with investors for funding opportunities, primarily through a 3-month accelerator programme.

FIKRA invited applications from individuals (at least 18 years old) or start-ups at different stages of development or other organisations including fund managers and financial services providers that have an innovative tech-based idea and/or solution. The idea/solution must address at least one of the three key challenge areas: New Islamic Capital Markets Offerings, Access to Islamic Capital Markets, Islamic Capital Market – Social Finance Integration.

Capital Musings is a podcast series of the UNCDF, featuring in-depth conversations with economic development experts, thought-leaders and private sector leaders discussing critical issues at the intersection of development finance, impact investment and the SDGs.

Click here and listen to the series for free.