Local Finance Initiative (LFI)

Local Finance Initiative (LFI)

The Challenge

Public-private partnerships have become a mainstay of growth and development for rich and poor countries alike. With the growing awareness that inclusiveness in public goods and services is a fundamental condition for private economic stability and sustainability, an era of social enterprise and cooperation has taken hold.

The emergence of new partners from rising economies, eager to apply the best practices of development cooperation close to home, has prompted a re-imagining of what can be achieved in developing countries using private resources to finance public projects at local and district levels.

How We Are Helping?

LFI is designed to promote sustainable, inclusive and equitable growth in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) by developing local investment opportunities that can deliver transformative impact for financing by the private sector and preferably domestic capital markets. The design phase of the programme confirmed that domestic capital is not used to support small and medium-scale infrastructure development at the rural and sub-national level. Also it is not available for local economic development actors, whether they are local governments or private businesses.

The UNCDF technical team delivers the LFI approach and its methodologies (project finance, SME finance, and public-private- partnership) to select projects during development and financing stages. In other words, projects that are otherwise un-bankable are de-risked and taken the “last mile” to an investment ready stage where they are prepared to access commercial capital. Selection of projects is based on a) impact to local communities; b) potential for commercial viability; c) priority infrastructure areas e.g. energy, agro-processing, public facilities infrastructure, and other traditional and industrial small and medium size infrastructure.

The risks that are present at all stages of project development (pre-feasibility, financial structuring and closing, construction and operation) require significant capacity and experience of the developer in order to be properly managed and mitigated for investors, lenders, contractors, and other third parties. The LFI technical team provides this capacity through specific support activities (e.g., project structuring, financial evaluation and structuring, investment memorandum preparation and introduction of risk mitigation strategies) that enables projects to reach financial closure. Additional support is provided in the form of grants for technical studies, seed capital, subordinated debt, loan guarantees, credit enhancements and options that reduce last mile transaction costs. The non-recourse project finance approach, as one example, has been deployed successfully in developed countries to access long-term private finance for infrastructure projects, yet is not widely applied for small and medium infrastructure projects in LDCs. UNCDF’s use of this approach is a critical element to leverage limited public funds needed to unleash private capital to scale up local development.

In Tanzania, LFI is supporting 25 infrastructure projects, originated by both public and private developers, at different stages of development. These projects spread across agro-processing, renewable energy, community infrastructure, telecommunications, and industrial-manufacturing sectors. The five most advanced projects are expected to reach financial closure in the next six to nine months and expected to access US$26 million of domestic capital in the form of debt and US$3 million of grants.

LFI follows a holistic approach to engage all actors along the project development and finance continuum: Project sponsors, Technical Service Providers, Investors, Lenders, DFI/IFIs, DPs, local governments, central government and its relevant agencies.

To learn more about the Local Finance Initiative, please download the LFI brochure.

In Detail


Local Finance Initiative (LFI)

GoalTo unlock flow of domestic capital to finance local projects needed to promote inclusive local economic development.

The programme is executed through four main programmatic components: 

  • Project development activities that enable the identification and development of projects and to create financing models that facilitate access to the domestic financial sector for investments in strategic, smaller scale infrastructure projects.
  • Finance and credit enhancement facilities to enable jumpstarting the process of project identification, development and transaction/financing structuring;
  • Capacity-building activities that provide for the training of public and private stakeholders and increased government capacity to facilitate finance, project development, and business-enabling environments; 
  • Monitoring and Evaluation and impact verification. One important outcome of the LFI project will be its contribution to the measurement of investment impact.
PeriodOngoing (2014-2017)
Active InTanzania, Uganda.
PartnersUNCDF, Government of Tanzania PMO-RALG, SIDA
Total project cost and UNCDF contribution$33,250,645

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