Branching Out: Financial Inclusion at the Margins

19th March, 2018

30th March, 2018

Applications for min. of £600,000

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About the initiative

As part of a new partnership, Comic Relief and Jersey Overseas Aid, are co-funding a 4-year programme aimed at bringing about genuine financial inclusion for those at the margins in Rwanda, Zambia, and Sierra Leone. For every £1 contributed by Jersey Overseas Aid, Comic Relief will make a matching contribution into the initiative.

Two billion people lack access to formal financial services and approximately 90% of these live in developing countries.

Financial inclusion changes people lives. Evidence shows that when people have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs - including transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance - everyone benefits. People save more; spend more on health care and education; invest in their businesses and enterprises which in turn have more opportunity to thrive.


Funding available

This is an £8 million initiative where Comic Relief are matching Jersey Overseas Aid’s contribution pound-for-pound to deliver transformational work in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Zambia. Applications are welcome for a minimum of £600,000 over a period of between 36 and 48 months.

  • The initiative is looking for proposals that include and integrate the following:
  • Financial inclusion programming
  • Technical Assistance and advocacy to strengthen systems
  • FinTech Incubation


We are looking for solutions addressing systemic change which influence, motivate, and inspire actors working within national financial inclusion frameworks to reach those that have been left behind.

Proposals must work towards the overall outcome of reaching those that have been left behind and financially excluded. In addition, proposals must work towards at least two of the following:

  • Improved access to financial services (formal or informal)
  • Increased understanding and awareness of financial services
  • Changed regulatory frameworks that systemically improve financial services for those at the margins
  • Game-changing uses of digitized products and technology to strengthen delivery of financial services
  • Strengthened and more efficient relationships between government regulators/institutions and other actors in the financial inclusion space
  • Developing a learning culture through technical support for governments and regulators

Proposals must be targeted, and do not need to address all of the above outcomes. We understand that in order to drive meaningful change it needs to happen at scale and in a manner which integrates community based efforts through to regulatory improvements.


Financial inclusion

Financial inclusion and access to financial services facilitates day-to-day living and prosperity. It helps people, families, communities and their businesses to engage in the economy and plan for everything from long-term development goals to unexpected emergencies. People can use financial services, such as a basic bank accounts, credit and insurance, to start and expand businesses, invest in education or health, manage risk and weather financial and political shocks, which can improve the overall quality of their lives. Research also shows that more inclusive financial markets are directly linked with economic growth and employment and a financial market that reaches everyone is increasingly recognised as allowing for more effective execution of other social policies and development priorities.

The World Bank have set the target of achieving universal financial access by 2020 and Financial inclusion has been identified as an enabler of many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including eliminating extreme poverty (Goal 1), tackling hunger (Goal 2), creating jobs (Goal 8) and improving health (Goal 3) and gender equality (Goal 5).

Our focus on financial inclusion however, is to target and support those at the margins that have been left behind and are unable to avail of existing financial products and services.


Eligibility and Key Dates

Applications for this funding initiative will be by invitation-only and requires organisations to be based in-country delivering work. Applicant proposals should reference work that is built into their board-approved long-term strategy. Further to that, we are specifically interested in funding work that is aimed at the marginalised, not broader financial inclusion work that is less-targeted.

There is no minimum / maximum turnover for applicant organisations.


Key Dates and Processes

We will be extending invitations for submission by mid-March.

First stage proposals will include an expression of interest. Subsequently successful organisations will then be required to fill out a full application. Assessments of the shortlisted proposals will take place during May 2018 and final decisions will be made by our Grants Committee and Trustees.

We aim to inform all applicants of the final decision in September 2018. If your proposal is unsuccessful at this stage we will write to you explaining the reasons why and may offer further feedback by phone.



For more information or any questions please contact Richard Loat.

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