UNCDF in Samoa

UNCDF in Samoa

The Challenge

Lying half way between Hawaii and New Zealand, the volcanic islands of Samoa are in the very centre of Polynesia. Samoa implemented a number of successful economic reforms in the mid-1990s which facilitated several years of steady growth, making it one of the stronger performing economies in the Pacific region. However, Samoa remains vulnerable to external economic shocks, as well as to natural hazards such as cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes. The Government of Samoa itself has no official figure for the incidence of poverty in Samoa. However, participatory poverty assessments undertaken by the government confirm that a significant number of households experience hardship arising from 'poverty of opportunity' that is manifested in a lack of access to basic services and a lack of opportunities to participate fully in the socioeconomic life of the community. In the 2012 Human Development Report, Samoa was ranked 96 out of 187 countries.

How We Are Helping?

In Samoa, UNCDF is helping to address development challenges through the the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP).

PFIP is providing funding to Digicel to introduce a low cost mobile phone based mobile wallet (m-wallet) in Samoa and other countries in the Pacific. Funding from UNCDF will enable the company to develop a business plan for a broader Pacific roll-out and to implement a pilot project before launching in other countries. The m-wallet can also be used in partnership with banks, microfinance institutions and others and will offer domestic money transfer, international remittance, bill payment, and savings. It is expected that by the end of 2011, the service will benefit up to 500,000 people of which 40% will be women and 30% living in rural villages.

Moreover, the Least Developed Countries Fund for savings-led market leaders for inclusive finance (MicroLead), aims to increase access to financial services, particularly savings, by supporting the expansion of microfinance savings-led market leaders in underserved countries.

In Detail


Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP)

GoalTo expand access to financial services, focusing primarily on rural and low income women and men and micro-enterpreneurs.

Working directly with policy-makers, industry leaders, community organizations and the unbanked population, our work takes a holistic approach towards increasing financial inclusion in the Pacific. PFIP is currently focusing on four key areas:

  • Branchless banking;
  • Financial competency;
  • Microinsurance;
  • Financial Inclusion Policy and regulation.
PartnersUNCDF, UNDP, Governments of Solomon Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu, European Commission, Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid).
Total project cost and UNCDF contributionUSD 7,268,986
USD 1,820,319
Results (including scaling and policy impact)


GoalTo increase access to financial services, particularly savings, by supporting the expansion of microfinance savings-led market leaders in underserved countries.
  • Offering grants and loans that incentivize leading providers to start up new, or strengthen existing financial institutions that target low-income people, especially with savings, in underserved areas, particularly countries struggling to recover from crisis and conflict;
  • Through a competitive process to select leading indigenous microfinance providers from developing countries to expand their reach by implementing a variety of approaches including greenfields, transformations of MFIs to formally regulated deposit-taking institutions, and providing technical assistance to in-country MFIs;
  • Supporting technical advisors who work to help those providers to develop the institutional capacity to extend their reach.
PartnersUNCDF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Mastercard Foundation, LIFT Myanmar.
Total project cost and UNCDF contributionUSD 58,562,939
USD 7,871,850
Results (including scaling and policy impact)

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