Office/Unit/Project Description 

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. UNCDF’s financing models work through two channels: financial inclusion that expands 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; and by showing how localized investments can drive public and private funding that underpins local economic expansion and sustainable development. By strengthening how finance works for poor people at the household, small enterprise, and local infrastructure levels, UNCDF contributes to SDG 1 on eradicating poverty and SDG 17 on means of implementation. By identifying those market segments where innovative financing models can have transformational impact in helping to reach the last mile and address exclusion and inequalities of access, UNCDF contributes to a number of different SDGs.

The UNCDF strategy ‘Leaving no one behind in the digital era’ is based on over a decade of experience in digital financial inclusion in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. UNCDF’s vision is to empower millions of people by 2024 to use services daily that leverage innovation and technology and contribute to the SDGs. To achieve this vision, UNCDF uses a market development approach and continuously seeks to address underlying market dysfunctions.

The Financial Sector Development Specialist will support UNCDF’s delivery of direct technical assistance to implementing partners in product development and adaptation and in provision of relevant non-financial services to aid in uptake and usage. S/he must be experienced in design and implementation of projects focused on access to finance, digital and financial literacy, and innovation in East Africa, as well as familiar with emerging trends of digital transformation.

Institutional Arrangement

The Financial Sector Development Specialist will perform her/his duties under the supervision of the Programme Specialist (P-4) of Inclusive Digital Economies (IDE) Practice in Tanzania and Rwanda, with close collaboration with the IDE Programme Coordinator in Rwanda and working in partnership with the other IDE colleagues at country and HQ level.


1. Design, implement, and train and provide technical assistance on digital and financial literacy in East Africa (30%)

• Engage with partners in public, private and government sectors (and other UNCDF specialists) to understand these partners’ current strategies, products services offered (both financial and non-financial), and needs to strengthen both uptake and usage (through in-depth interviews and FGDs);

• Review government policies and strategies to identify, propose, and develop interventions that align with government priorities;

• Provide oversight and review of upcoming end-line survey in Rwanda to better understand partner outreach in terms of financial and digital literacy, assess any new or existing needs and gaps in knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors;

• Design a strategy for linking existing and new non-financial services to ongoing projects and new projects;

• Update UNCDF’s battery of financial and digital capability as the offerings of products and services and methods of delivery continue to change;

• Work with UNCDF’s results-based measurement team to ensure results are captured in donor and HQ reporting and integrated into project M&E plans.

• Create and implement trainings and non-financial services – face-to-face, or using alternative delivery mechanisms such as audio, video, comic, or app-based – to support the uptake and usage of financial products and services promoted by UNCDF and partners;

• Develop and lead Training of Trainers workshops to create a cadre of professional financial and digital literacy trainers amongst partners

• Perform research on IDE-related themes that have been highlighted in research and can contribute to the country strategies (for example: asset-based financing for women, needs for agricultural clients, scaling-up financial education, supporting digitalization of MSMEs);

• Ensure mechanisms and feedback loops are included at project design phase to capture critical information and provide opportunities for mid-term reflection on effectiveness and efficiency of implementation.

• Draft reports, briefs and written analyses based on project research.

• Engage with UNCDF on a global level to understand how other countries and regions are approaching inclusive digital economy with a focus on women, youth;

• Promote evidence-informed decision-making that use systematically-collected data to inform UNCDF programming. Advise and support UNCDF staff on how to make best use of research findings

• Design monitoring and evaluation strategies and tools as well as research leveraging to assess the reach, efficacy, and ongoing needs for non-financial services linked to financial services in UNCDF programs.


2. Provide technical assistance to partners with regards to demand-side issues of uptake and usage for both formal and informal products and services (i.e. digitized savings groups). (30%).

• Liaise directly with partners – government, public, and private sector – to provide technical assistance in examining demand-side perception of products and services, with a focus on digital mechanisms as requested by Programme Specialists (and assist any specific expert staff) in each country;

• Work with partners to develop qualitative research (IDIs, FGDs) on project design and assessment with the goal of strengthening uptake and usage, specifically digital products and services as per the IDES;

• Contribute to the research and analysis of projects, keeping project objectives, country strategy, and forward-looking project pipeline in mind;

• When needed, contribute to the recruitment of implementation partners including writing TORs, assisting in the drafting of PBAs or other contracts, and acting as part of the review team;

• Participate in calls, meetings, or conferences with partners to review results and provide training where needed – for example, on successful UNCDF projects from other country programs or new fintech products

3. Support with program and project development. (30%).

• Understand and deepen familiarity with ongoing projects, including project objectives, theories of change, available data, and key partners/stakeholders;

• Engage with national stakeholders to better understand government priorities, funding opportunities and partnership potential.

• Liaise directly with partners – government, public, and private sector – to provide technical assistance in developing both financial and non-financial services, with a focus on digital mechanisms as requested by Programme Specialists in each country;

• Contribute to the research and analysis of projects, keeping project objectives, country strategy, and forward-looking project pipeline in mind;

• Assist in the assessment of savings group health and performance;

• Participate in donor partner group meetings relevant to priority themes (i.e. access to finance, digital and financial literacy, savings group digitization, etc.);

• Draft concept notes to pitch to possible donors.

• Support with the drafting of country program documents.

4. Support UNCDF’s Communications Affiliate and team in communicating results, actions, and sharing successes and lessons learned. (10%)

• Engage with national and regional partners/colleagues to disseminate results and learnings, through in-person events (COVID-permitting), in-person meetings, conference presentations and webinars;

• Support UNCDF’s communications team to ensure knowledge and information is shared with global network of partners through writing or contributing to articles, blogs, brochures, videos or other communications materials.


Professionalism:  Shows pride in work and achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations. Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.

Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; Listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; Asks questions to clarify and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; Tailors language, tone, style and format to match the audience; Demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed.

Client Orientation: Considers all those to whom services are provided to be “clients ” and seeks to see things from clients’ point of view; Establishes and maintains productive partnerships with clients by gaining their trust and respect; Identifies clients’ needs and matches them to appropriate solutions; Monitors ongoing developments inside and outside the clients’ environment to keep informed and anticipate problems; Keeps clients informed of progress or setbacks in projects; Meets timeline for delivery of products or services to client


Minimum Academic Education Master’s Degree in International Development, Management, Finance, Economics, Education, or related field.
Minimum years of relevant work experience Minimum five (5) years of work experience in economic development and training and education is required.
Required skills and competencies
  • Demonstrated experience in financial/digital literacy content design and implementation;
  • Relevant experience in international development;
  • Demonstrated experience working deeply in the field with the mass market, including rural or low-income communities;
  • Demonstrated experience managing or conducting participatory research, particularly related to assessing needs for financial capability or financial services in rural or low-income communities.
  • Previous work in Sub-Saharan Africa and Rwanda and Tanzania in particular, is required;
Desired additional skills and competencies
  • Previous experience in quantitative research, including design of indicators and analysis of data;
  • Extensive experience training staff of NGOs and financial services providers;
  • Familiarity with the development, modification and roll out of financial services for low-income communities;
  • Previous publication and/or presentation in the field of financial capability (curricula, communications);
  • Understanding and/or background in financial inclusion, microfinance, and access to finance.
  • Strong ability to communicate and function effectively in local/international/multicultural environment;
  • High level planning, organizational and time management skills, including flexibility, attention to detail and the ability to work under pressure to meet changing deadlines;
  • Well-developed interpersonal skills, including the ability to liaise effectively at senior levels, including central banks;
  • Excellent Excel and PowerPoint skills;
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills of a high order, including the ability to formulate recommendations and advice.

Experience working within the United Nations system is desired but not mandatory

Language(s) at working level
  • Excellent speaking and writing skills in English is mandatory.
  • Communication skills in French, and other languages spoken in Africa will be considered a distinct advantage.