1. What is UNCDF?

    UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries. It creates new opportunities for poor people and small businesses by increasing access to microfinance and investment capital. UNCDF focuses on Africa and the poorest countries of Asia, with a special commitment to countries emerging from conflict or crisis.

  2. What does UNCDF do?

    UNCDF provides seed capital – grants and loans – and technical support to help microfinance institutions reach more poor households and small businesses, and local governments finance the capital investments – water systems, feeder roads, schools, irrigation schemes – that will improve poor peoples’ lives. UNCDF programmes help to empower women, and are designed to catalyze larger capital flows from the private sector, national governments and development partners, for maximum impact toward the Millennium Development Goals.

  3. What makes UNCDF different?

    UNCDF works to create new opportunities for poor families and small businesses in the least developed countries. It focuses on local investment and financial inclusion because decent basic services and a functioning private sector give people power over their lives.

    UNCDF is more like a development bank than a traditional UN agency. Its unique assets include its:

    • Capital mandate and flexible programming instruments: UNCDF can issue loans and guarantees, as well as capital grants. It can provide technical assistance, policy advice and risk capital – separately, or in any combination -- directly to the private sector or any level of government.
    • In-house expertise: UNCDF is a recognized leader in supporting microfinance institutions and local governments, including in some of the most challenging environments (e.g. post-crisis LDCs). Its downstream expertise gives it upstream credibility in shaping national policies on financial inclusion and decentralized service delivery.
    • Appetite for risk: UNCDF is willing to support unproven but promising institutions (e.g. local governments in post-crisis countries) and innovative approaches (e.g. financial service delivery via mobile phones). UNCDF takes calculated risks early on, to reduce systemic risk -- and risk perception -- down the road.

    These assets make UNCDF unique in the UN system and a natural partner for larger financing institutions of the private sector. In the words of a 2008 assessment of UNCDF by the Government of Sweden: “UNCDF should be seen as a development actor that paves the way for others.”

  4. How does UNCDF contribute to the Millennium Development Goals?

    As a UN agency, UNCDF works within the wider framework of the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

  5. Where is UNCDF located?

    UNCDF has its headquarters in New York City and works worldwide out of 3 Regional Offices and 37 Country Programme Offices, most of which are co-located with UNDP.

  6. Has UNCDF been assessed by external bodies?

    At UNCDF we believe in continuous assessment and improvement. Reviews by outside bodies help us to remain sharp and relevant, which, in turn helps us to build partnerships and achieve wider impact.

  7. What is the history of UNCDF?

    UNCDF was created by a General Assembly resolution in 1966, at the same time that UNDP was established: while UNDP was to focus on technical assistance, the “software of development”, UNCDF was to focus on capital investments – roads, bridges, schools, and the like – the “hardware of development”.

  8. Where does UNCDF get its funding?

    UNCDF is an autonomous, voluntarily funded UN organization, affiliated with UNDP. UNCDF raises its funding separately from UNDP. Its funding comes from UN member states, foundations and the private sector.

  9. Does UNCDF have a document describing its activities and finances?

    Yes, each year UNCDF publishes an Annual Report with details of its programmatic, managerial and financial performance. Additional information is available throughout this website.

  10. Where can I get more information about UNCDF and its work in specific countries?

    The Where we work section of this website leads to information on UNCDF’s activities in specific countries. Additional country-specific information, including programme evaluations, can be found through the Library section.