> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI

What’s the state of funding for financial inclusion initiatives? CGAP’s survey of international funders found that total contributions globally are increasing, more money is coming from public not private funders, funding is extending beyond microfinance to other areas of financial inclusion, and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is increasingly a priority region.

The 2012 CGAP Cross-Border Funder Survey, an annual effort since 2008, surveyed 22 international funders representing 86 percent of the financial inclusion commitments reported for 2012 (a full list of the funders can be found here). The survey, supplemented by data from Symbiotics MIV Surveys, revealed that funders committed $29 billion in 2012, a 12 percent increase over 2011. CGAP indicates that this change stems largely from an improved global economy. This increase might also result from changes to this year’s survey methodology, which, to align with the changing financial services landscape, captures funding activity in a number of additional financial inclusion areas. These areas include financing for small-enterprises and client-level projects, such as financial capability projects.

As was the case in recent years, most funding for financial inclusion initiatives goes toward portfolio financing for retail financial service providers (FSPs). This figure reached $14.8 billion in 2012, representing 78 percent of the year’s commitments. The remaining commitments are in the following areas, all in roughly equal volume: designing suitable products and services, institutional operations, management and governance, and responsible practices. Small levels of support go to policy and market infrastructure. Survey responses indicate that funders identify lack of a suitable range of products and services and limited institutional capacity of FSPs as the major roadblocks to inclusion. In 2012, 10 percent of total funding went towards strengthening FSPs’ institutional capacity.

The most common funding instrument in 2012 was debt financing at $12 billion, an increase of 19 percent over 2011 with proportionally higher increases going toward the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region. Grant funding also increased, by 15 percent to $2.3 billion with the biggest regional increase benefitting the Middle East and North Africa.

Broken down by region, the ECA region and South Asia region continued to receive the most funding with $4.7 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively. The SSA region and the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region followed with $2.7 billion and $2.2 billion. This year marked the first time SSA surpassed LAC. CGAP anticipates that this shift in priority will continue in the years ahead.

Public funding is increasing faster than private funding, with the pair’s respective annual increases at 16 and 2 percent. Public entities approved nearly $3.4 billion in new projects in 2012 – a 69 percent increase over 2011 – and closed fewer projects than the previous year.

For more information on the survey and its findings, read a brief written by CGAP. And for added context, explore survey results from previous years. Where do you think financial inclusion funding will be in the years to come?

Infographic credit: CGAP.org

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