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Agreement Signing Ceremony

Agreement Signing Ceremony

UNCDF provides support to Banque Franco Lao Ltd. in moving into digital financing of distribution chains to benefit small women-run businesses
August 26 , 2016

Banque Franco Lao Ltd. (BFL) awarded by UNCDF SHIFT Challenge Fundn to expand financial businesses through Digital Finance Services 

Vientiane - 

On August 26, 2016, the grant agreement between UNCDF and Banque Franco Lao Ltd. (BFL) was publicly signed in the presence of the Australian Ambassador to Lao PDR, H.E. John Williams, of the UNDP Resident Representative a.i., Mr Murali, of representatives from the Bank of Lao PDR, and of the President of the Lao Businesswomen’s Association. The speakers saluted this incentivization of the private sector to further develop services specially designed for women micro-entrepreneurs, and to boldly expand them for greater developmental outcomes in their communities.

BFL has been awarded with a grant by UNCDF's SHIFT Challenge Fund – Window on Women's Financial Inclusion, generously funded by the Australian Government – to implement a payment digitization initiative involving small women-run retail businesses in Lao PDR in partnership with Lao Companies who have retailers in their supply chains. BFL plans to promote access to digital finance services for 7,000 retailers, mainly comprising of small women-run businesses. BFL would be moving distribution chain finance to electronic money in the future and then use it as a launch pad for a Digital Financial Services (DFS) offer available on mobile phones. This offer will enable clients and non-clients to access an account and various financial services such as fund transfers, bill payments and cash-in/cash-out. These activities are being launched in line with BFL’s strategic initiative to better address the women entrepreneur market.

This BFL initiative will be supported by UNCDF's SHIFT Challenge Fund Window on Fostering Innovative Business Models for Women's Financial Inclusion – to expand financial access to the population in Laos through Digital Finance Services. This Grant has been awarded to BFL for a two-year project, estimated to cost USD $750,000 out of which BFL will invest USD $460,000 and UNCDF SHIFT will provide the remaining amount as grant. This project aims to pilot and establish digital financing to distribution chains and women businesses, benefitting over 20,600 users in Vientiane and in main Lao provinces by 2018. It complements Bank of Lao PDR’s active promotion of DFS to widen access to financial services to rural and poor people.

The financing agreement will support BFL’s social development impact, in targeting not only its core market segments - corporate, small and medium enterprises and individual clients - but also micro and very small businesses owned or managed by women, currently underserved or excluded from the formal financial system. 

Banque Franco Lao Ltd. (BFL) has been awarded with a grant by UNCDF's SHIFT Challenge Fund – Window on Women's Financial Inclusion, generously funded by the Australian Government – to implement a payment digitization initiative involving small women-run retail businesses in Lao PDR in partnership with Lao Companies who have retailers in their supply chains. BFL plans to promote access to digital finance services for 7,000 retailers, mainly comprising of small women-run businesses. BFL would be moving distribution chain finance to electronic money in the future and then use it as a launch pad for a Digital Financial Services (DFS) offer available on mobile phones. This offer will enable clients and non-clients to access an account and various financial services such as fund transfers, bill payments and cash-in/cash-out. These activities are being launched in line with BFL’s strategic initiative to better address the women entrepreneur market.

This BFL initiative will be supported by UNCDF's SHIFT Challenge Fund Window on Fostering Innovative Business Models for Women's Financial Inclusion – to expand financial access to the population in Laos through Digital Finance Services. This Grant has been awarded to BFL for a two-year project, estimated to cost USD $750,000 out of which BFL will invest USD $460,000 and UNCDF SHIFT will provide the remaining amount as grant. This project aims to pilot and establish digital financing to distribution chains and women businesses, benefitting over 20,600 users in Vientiane and in main Lao provinces by 2018. It complements Bank of Lao PDR’s active promotion of DFS to widen access to financial services to rural and poor people.

The financing agreement will support BFL’s social development impact, in targeting not only its core market segments - corporate, small and medium enterprises and individual clients - but also micro and very small businesses owned or managed by women, currently underserved or excluded from the formal financial system. 

Banque Franco Lao Ltd. (BFL), co-owned by BRED Group, the largest commercial bank within the BPCE Group in France, and BCEL, the main Lao public bank, started its activities in Laos in 2010. Today, BFL owns a network of 22 service units, with 12 in Vientiane, 10 located in key cities outside the capital and 43 operational ATMs across the country. BFL offers a wide range of loan, deposit and debit card products to more than 22,000 retail and business customers. BFL’s ambition is to provide innovative banking solutions and to support the people of Laos in building a sustainable future.

UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries. 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. UNCDF’s financing models work through two channels: financial inclusion that expands the opportunities for individuals, households, and small businesses to participate in the local economy, providing them with the tools they need to climb out of poverty and manage their financial lives. UNCDF expands financial inclusion in Laos through its joint programme MAFIPP (Making Access to Finance more Inclusive for Poor People) with the Bank of Lao PDR and its ASEAN-wide programme Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (SHIFT), both with the generous contribution from the Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

For more information, please contact
Fakhrul Islam
Fund Facility Coordinator
Additional Information
Fakhrul Islam
Fund Facility Coordinator
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