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Using a Gender Lens and Capacity-building to Develop a Financial Inclusion Strategy A case study of Viet Nam’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy

By adopting National Financial Inclusion Strategies (NFIS), countries can promote a more effective and efficient process to achieve financial inclusion. For example, these strategies can outline structured coordination between public and private stakeholders to focus on key targets.

In 2016, ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governments established the ASEAN Working Committee on Financial Inclusion (WC-FINC). The WC-FINC was launched in close consultation with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations programme (SHIFT) in ASEAN programme, supported by the Australian Government. The committee aims to promote and foster initiatives to advance financial inclusion across ASEAN, serving as a platform for member states to share progress and facilitate knowledge sharing. Specifically, the committee was created to:

  • Support NFIS development and implementation plans;
  • Elevate capacity building to enhance the financial inclusion ecosystem;
  • Promote innovative financial inclusion via digital platforms; and
  • Increase awareness of financial inclusion and consumer protection among member states

Under the WC-FINC framework, UNCDF has been supporting countries in ASEAN, specifically Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam, in developing strategies to enhance financial inclusion for those left behind.

Supporting Viet Nam in NFIS Development

As part of the support provided through the WC-FINC, UNCDF has been partnering with the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) since 2016 to support the formulation of their NFIS. The strategy includes targets to achieve financial inclusion in Viet Nam, a roadmap with activities to achieve them and a monitoring and evaluation framework to continuously assess if the targets are being met.

The support has culminated in the planned launch of Viet Nam’s NFIS in 2020. During the formulation phase from June 2016 and up until the launch, UNCDF has provided technical assistance such as data analytics training, including a secondment training for staff from SBV. This work covers several areas of UNCDF's expertise, particularly:

  • Data and analysis: To examine Global FinDex as well as demand and supply-side financial inclusion data of Vietnam to analyse financial inclusion access and usage with disaggregated data analytics; To introduce sex-disaggregated targets and indicators to ensure a gender-sensitive strategy that drives women’s financial inclusion and education;
  • Learning and development: Assist the SBV in developing a national database of financial inclusion indicators; develop technical expertise of SBV staff to understand results from country financial inclusion demand surveys to provide insights of the financial inclusion landscape and to set baselines for financial inclusion indicators; and
  • Advocacy: Work with government partners to ensure alignment between the strategy’s financial inclusion indicators and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
UNCDF PROVIDED USEFUL SUPPORT AS WE CRAFTED OUR NFIS. WE SHARED THE SECOND DRAFT OF OUR STRATEGY WITH THE UNCDF TEAM AND RECEIVED CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK ON IT. THIS IS ESPECIALLY IN THE AREA OF GENDER, WHICH WAS LACKING IN THE PREVIOUS VERSION. SINCE THEN, WE HAVE IDENTIFIED WOMEN AS A TARGET GROUP WITHIN THE STRATEGY, IN INTERVENTIONS SUCH AS FINANCIAL EDUCATION. UNCDF’S TRAINING ON DATA ANALYSIS HAS EQUIPPED MY TEAM WITH THE NECESSARY SKILLS TO ANALYZE DATA, WHICH IS ESSENTIAL FOR PROPER IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STRATEGY.

Mr. Dinh Xuan Ha, Head of Division at the Banking Strategy Institute

Financial Inclusion Data Analytics Training

In January 2019, UNCDF conducted its first training with staff from SBV on the analysis of financial inclusion data from Global FinDex. This training aimed to strengthen the SBV’s capability in monitoring financial inclusion within Viet Nam, and thus improve financial inclusion policy-making in the long run.

In the training, UNCDF offered technical assistance in data analysis to understand access and usage of a variety of financial products in the country, including payments, credit, savings and insurance across demographic and geographic disaggregated dimensions such as gender and age. Participants also developed interactive dashboards of financial inclusion data on Excel and Tableau, thus applying the software skills they picked up from these trainings.

Secondment Training of SBV Staff to UNCDF Bangkok

In May 2019, UNCDF invited four officials from the SBV to attend a secondment training at UNCDF’s regional office in Bangkok, Thailand. The training was meant to deepen the knowledge from the initial training and consisted of analyzing financial inclusion data using a sample of Viet Nam’s national surveys and FinDex datasets. The participants were trained in using a statistical software program, STATA, and built on their skills by creating interactive dashboards using Tableau.

With such technical data analytical skills, SBV staff developed the capability to analyze financial inclusion data, allowing them to identify baseline numbers and set targets on financial inclusion for the NFIS. The staff also shared the dashboards with their colleagues at SBV and provided guidance on how to use them, thus building up the wider organization’s capacity.

THE 2.5 WEEKS SECONDMENT TRAINING WAS A REWARDING EXPERIENCE FOR ME DURING MY WORK AT THE SBV. WITHIN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME, I LEARNT HOW TO CREATE DYNAMIC DASHBOARDS AND MAKE OUTCOME REPORTS. IT WAS ALSO MY FIRST TIME LEARNING HOW TO CODE ON STATA TO EXTRACT THE MASTER FILE DATA FOR ANALYSIS. ALL THESE SKILLS ALLOWED US TO DEEPLY AND ACTIVELY ANALYZE THE RESULTS OF THE SBV’S FIRST-EVER DEMAND-SIDE SURVEY CONDUCTED WITH TECHNICAL AND FINANCIAL SUPPORTS FROM THE WORLD BANK, WHICH HAS BEEN INCORPORATED INTO OUR NFIS.

Ms. Nguyen Huong Giang, Deputy Head of International Cooperation Department

This was the first time that SBV had conducted a demand-side survey. Working with UNCDF, I learnt how to analyze the data collected – from cleaning the data and coding in STATA for the first time, to creating dashboards and exporting output reports. The findings have been fed into our financial inclusion strategy, and also serves as a basis for future surveys. Moving forward, we plan to conduct similar demand-side surveys once every three years. I now feel confident using STATA to analyze these surveys.

Mr. Le Quang Trung, Researcher at the Banking Strategy Institute

Moving Forward: Measuring the Strategy’s Progress towards Financial Inclusion

The trainings provided staff with the capacity to further define aspects of the NFIS. With the NFIS launch planned for 2020, the SBV is preparing for the implementation phase of the strategy. To support Viet Nam and other ASEAN member states in the WC-FINC, UNCDF conducted a monitoring and evaluation workshop in Brunei in October 2019. During the workshop, the establishment of frameworks for measurement and monitoring NFIS across the ASEAN region was initiated. Viet Nam has also started to create a framework that tracks NFIS implementation and progress towards its stipulated targets.

UNCDF's technical assistance to date has helped SBV in the fields of data analysis, visualization and reporting, financial inclusion best practice and gender mainstreaming in financial inclusion. Moving forward, UNCDF will continue to support SBV’s efforts to achieve women’s financial inclusion with the implementation and continuous monitoring of the strategy.

About the United Nations Capital Development Fund

The UN Capital Development Fund makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs).

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 three channels: (1) inclusive digital economies, which connects individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyze participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; (2) local development finance, which capacitates localities through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and (3) investment finance, which provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilization.

UNCDF’s Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (SHIFT) in ASEAN programme is supported by the Australian Government.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of UNCDF, the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations or its Member States.

Credits:

Created with an image by Mike Swigunski - "Above the fast-moving city of Saigon, Vietnam. Please consider adding credit to the link in my bio :-)."