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2018 Quarter 2 Newsletter

  In this issue:
MAP programme in ASIA
Shwe-Toe Gamification Launch
A short story of MFI Loan beneficiary 
MAP Global Learning and Sharing Forum
Market Development Facility Monitoring Trip Report
1-Stop Digital Convenience Store Partnership Signing
FinScope Launch and MAP Refresh assessment key findings

1– STOP Partnership Signing Ceremony

Yangon, May 23, 2018: UNCDF signed a partnership agreement with Myanma Awba Group, Myanmar’s largest manufacturer and distributor of agricultural technology, to support an innovative digital convenience store called 1-STOP, a joint venture between MAG and 2C2P. The partnership is co-funded by DFAT, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia.

While promoting DFS ecosystem; this partnership aims to empower low-income women business owners in Myanmar by supporting them financially with the opportunity to become agents of 1-STOP. It also aims to support the current policy framework in Myanmar to focus on women as active and independent participants of the national economy, and to foster greater participation of women in the workforce especially in  professional and managerial roles. The project is planned to run for 24 months directly aiding 6,000 women-owned retail shops while reaching over 70,000 customers. The services to be provided by these women agents include Mobile Prepaid, Bill Payments and e-Commerce cash  acceptance for flight and bus tickets across a network of 30 content providers and 100 e-commerce merchants.
“We want women to be powerful agent of change, so it is important for them
to have access to the financial tools they need to pursue their entrepreneurial goals"
U Lynn Htaik Aung, Managing Director of 1-STOP

MAP Global Insights Learning and Sharing

New York, June 26-27,2018:  MAP coordinators and key Government partners from all MAP implementing countries across the globe, gathered at UN Secretariat Building to learn and share highlights in the achievements of MAPs programmes, to develop a broader understanding of appropriate indicators and M&E targets, to share best practices of formulating policy interventions, and to better facilitate productive institutional arrangements and structured private sector engagement on a continuous basis using MAP platform. Three representatives from Myanmar participated at the event.
"MAP in Myanmar" Presented by U Zaw Naing, Director General of Finance and Regulatory Department, MoPF

UNCDF’s Executive Secretary, Ms. Judith Karl at the event stated,“MAP has been able to set up pilot initiatives, reveal opportunities to investors and keep the focus ensuring that the national objectives of financial inclusion can be met by multiple stakeholders. The coordinated and collaborative effort on a national platform serves to anchor the MAP approach in-country, building technical capacity and increasing the likelihood that the innovations identified can be taken to scale and will continue delivering benefits into the future, even as market conditions and consumer needs evolve”.

Many countries in the MAP programme are moving from its research and diagnostic phase into developing an implementation strategy and action plan from the roadmap. Through an in-country stakeholder dialogue process and evidence-based diagnostic analysis, MAP aligns a broad range of stakeholders from within government, the private sector and the donor/funding community to create a set of practical actions aimed at   extending financial inclusion tailored to that country.

Shwe Toe: A Mobile Game to Boost Financial Literacy

Yangon, June 4, 2018:  UNCDF and Wave Money, with funding support from DFAT, successfully announced the launch of Shwe Toe, a unique financial  gamification aimed at increasing financial literacy of women in Myanmar.

"One of the biggest barriers to women’s financial inclusion is a lack of information or awareness. Some women do not have the education, guidance or networks from which to gather useful information on different financial products and services and the advantages and disadvantages associated with each option. UNCDF supports innovations from private sector organizations in ASEAN to accelerate financial inclusion with a focus on women as entrepreneurs, employees and consumers”, remarked Paul Luchtenburg, the Country Director of UNCDF Myanmar.

Shwe Toe, meaning ‘Grow Gold’ in Myanmar aims to educate women on complex financial concepts in a simple, fun and memorable way. The mobile game app aims to contribute to the achievement of Myanmar’s Financial Inclusion goals.

Wave Money is the first and leading mobile financial services provider operating with over 25,000 Wave shops across Myanmar. 

A Visit To MDF Last-Mile Clients

A field monitoring visit to Hinthada branch of Pyae Mahar, one of MFI partners, was carried out by UNCDF in May. Observations were made on the clients’ interaction with Pyae Mahar, their financial activities, and their utilization of the financial services provided by the MFI. The results of the visit were put together into internal report and will be used to support and keep track of the MFI partners.  The Loan amount of MMK 300 Million was disbursed to Pyae Mahar in 2017, and Pyae Mahar has currently 5,500 of active clients in its Hinthada Branch .
Group Meeting

Has MAP Become The Rail Of FI In Asia?

Bangkok, April 24-25,2018: MAP coordinators and representatives from Ministry of Planning and Finance and Central bank of Myanmar attended MAP Asia workshop held at UN office in Bangkok.

The MAP research phase has been undertaken in four developing countries in Asia, namely, Myanmar, Laos, Nepal and Cambodia. While each of these countries are at various stages of implementation of the roadmap and engagement with Government, a key challenge in MAP countries is gaining momentum for the implementation of key activities in the roadmap and implementation plans. Because of the significant stakeholder consultation and support that is a key approach of the MAP process, government bureaucratic processes often deter speedy implementation. The process is also subject to a few factors that occur generally within the public sectors such as; key personnel changes, lack of political priority for FI, lack of government capacity, fragile political environments, etc. The result of this is endless stakeholder meetings with no real progress. Some of these government processes have resulted in country Financial Inclusion Strategies and although this is positive for financial inclusion, it does not automatically lead to progress on implementation.

The workshop allowed the MAP key-players to review the process of establishing MAP in the region thus far to identify successes and failures, to identify blockages and solutions to implementation, to identify the next steps for the MAP implementation from each of the countries in Asia, to agree the in-country management support required to support the implementation of the roadmap, to agree the outputs and deliverables.

Digital Financial Services and UNCDF in Myanmar 

UNCDF in Myanmar is providing facilitating supports and technical assistance to companies that are willing to implement activities or products that are aligned with its strategy. Additionally, having an inclusive and interoperable financial sector is part of UNCDF’s goal in Myanmar.

Some key activities of UNCDF Myanmar regarding Digital Financial Services are:
  • Advise industry organizations or government bodies on inclusive DFS options;
  • Support the development of business models for inclusive DFS; 
  • Advocacy for an inclusive DFS ecosystem among DFSPs and MFIs and Government bodies;
  • programmes and the transition from cash-in-envelop to DFS;
  • Advise humanitarian & development organizations in their electronic cash transfers; 
  • Assessments of local DFS industry, choosing a DFS partner, or develop a DFS engagement strategy.
UNCDF is the secretariate of DFS Working Group, which is chaired by the Central Bank of Myanmar and has the Financial Regulatory Department as its honored guest. 
The objective of the DFS WG is to be the forum of discussions between regulators and industry. Currently, the chosen topics are
1. Digital Loan Repayments for MFIs"; 
2. Digital Government to People (G2P) Payments, and advocating for an integrated  financial system; and
3. Inclusive Interoperability.
The ultimate objective is standardizing and scaling up a sum of currently ongoing pilots while having the vision of an integrated, accessible to the bottom of the pyramid and fair financial sector.

FinScope Launch and MAP Refresh

Nay Pyi Taw, June19, 2018: A one-day FinScope Launch and MAP Refresh Diagnostic Stakeholder Workshop was successfully held at Kempinski Hotel. The workshop, hosted by the Nationwide Financial Inclusion Roadmap Secretariat / FRD with supports from UNCDF and DaNa Facility (DFID), presented an overview of the FinScope research key findings followed by breakout sessions of specific topics discussion on Low Income Households, Small and Medium Enterprises, Digital Financial Services, Savings, and Financial Literacy.
The workshop was attended by government representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Finance, Central Bank of Myanmar and other ministries active in financial inclusion as well as representatives from banks, mobile money operators, microfinance institutions, cooperatives, fintech innovators, local and international NGOs, bilateral donor agencies and international agencies.
“As the financial sector moves to a more solid footing, we need to significantly expand rural outreach and the range of available financial instruments. In this regard, digital financial services offer great potential to connect Myanmar’s financially excluded to quality financial services. Introduced responsibility with discretion and financial literacy measures, digital finance can usher millions of financially excluded income earners into a new world of affordable savings, credit, and insurance services. Realizing this potential will require regulators and service providers partnering together to create a digital eco-system enabling  industry and consumers alike to leverage this new technology.”- U Muang Muang Win, the Deputy Minister of Ministry of Planning and Finance

2nd MAP Nationwide Assessment Key Findings

The assessment provides a composite profile of the access to and use of financial services nationwide, based on a comprehensive survey of 5,500 rural and urban households.

The initial key findings from the research are: 
#  A further 6.4 million adults have formal financial access in 2018 (from 30% in 2013 to 48% in 2018). Largely driven by increased Micro-Finance Institutions (MFI) and Cooperative expansion, significantly more adults use formal services for borrowing, payments and savings.
#  While there is evidence of lower poverty symptoms from 2013, nearly half of adults experienced difficulties in keeping up with financial commitments. 
#  A large segment (83%) of adults does not plan for their expenditure. This is linked to a large population (66%) earning that receives low (under $75 a month) and irregular income thereby contributing to budgeting and cash flow challenges to service expenses.
#  Broad formal finance access shifts from 2013 are highlighted by an increase in bank depositors and payment transactions.
#  Low, but meaningful, adult uptake (2% registered) on mobile money with rising potential to expand financial services to rural, remote, and disparate households.
#  Half of the adult population in 2018 and 2013 used informal financial  services, yet fewer adults are dependent solely on informal financial services to cover sudden household and livelihood financial shortfalls in 2018. ‘Informal service only” access fell by 30% from 10 million to about 7million adults in 2018 and 2013 respectively.
#  Significant increase in rural uptake of formal services outside of banking was mainly driven by credit and savings with MFIs and cooperatives showing a double increase in this category of formal financial products.
#  Formal financial services are mainly employed for livelihood investments, education and living expenses. Informal financial services are primarily applied toward living  expenses, coping strategies for unforeseen events (e.g. health issues) education, and livelihood investments. Money lenders maintain a leading position among informal financial service providers.
#  Financial services (both formal and informal) are most commonly applied for consumption smoothing (living expenses), medical expenses, education and business investment.

The full findings  will be released later in 2018. The ppt presentations in pdf file are available upon request:

Market Development Facility  

An Impact Investment Committee (IIC) meeting for the approval of the MDF loan was held in April. In the following months, the MDF loan for two local MFIs which are ECLOF and Unique Quality, were approved by the UNCDF Headquarters. The loan agreements were signed and the loans are planned to be  disbursed in the 2nd half of the year. Currently, there are 5 loans in the MDF pipeline, out of which 2 (Pyae Mahar and EdM SOO) have already been disbursed and 3 others are on the way.
 Daw Kay Aye Min (41) is a Pyae Mahar client living in Khawar village, Hinthada Township. She lives with her brother, and they make a living out of weaving bamboo baskets, a long tradition coming down in her village.

Before she received loans from Pyae Mahar she was able to weave only 15 baskets each week with a 15,000-kyat-per-week profit as it takes around 3 hours to weave out a bamboo basket. She excitedly recalled, “After I received loans from Pyae Mahar, I could grow my business through buying more raw materials and hiring external workers. Now my business has grown by four times, producing about 60 basket every week”.

This is her fifth year as a Pyae Mahar client, and the loans from Pyae Mahar have had  extensive impact on her business and her living conditions. She also seemed very proud as she showed the visitors her tidy house, which she was able to completely renew on her 4th loan cycle from Pyae Mahar.

UNCDF's  Market Development Facility (MDF) aims to financially support and strengthen the capacity of MFIs like Pyae Mahar that reaches clients in the rural, marginalized regions of Myanmar. Seeing how the impact reaches the last mile and changes the lives of the clients is something of great joy that keeps us going.

UNCDF makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries. 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.
For more information, please visit our website at or email us at

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