Press release: Supporting financial services for the rural poor in Myanmar

YANGON – UN Under Secretary-General and UNOPS Executive Director, Grete Faremo, visited a rural microfinance project in Pakokku, operated by Pact Global Microfinance.

The Pakokku branch is part of a larger project that was set up with funding from the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT), managed by UNOPS. The project provides poor and vulnerable households in the country with access to financial services. After only three years, the project is now fully self–financing, allowing the Fund to end its financial contribution.  

"This demonstrates lasting change for the better," said Ms. Faremo. "Access to financial services is crucial to allow rural families to increase and diversify their incomes. LIFT itself was set up to help Myanmar towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 1 – to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – and this is an excellent sign that things are on track."

Since 2012, the project has disbursed $21 million to more than 37,000 clients in the country; 57 percent of these loans are for agriculture, while the rest are for small businesses in villages across the Dry Zone and Shan State. The project also provides non-formal business training to all microfinance clients, of which 98.5 per cent of these are women.

"LIFT has just closed the call for proposals for the next stage of its Financial Inclusion Programme, worth USD 40 million," said Ms Faremo. "In line with government policy, this shows LIFT's commitment to extend access to financial services to the country's most vulnerable people."

The Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund works in Myanmar to improve the lives and prospects of the rural poor. It is funded by Australia, Denmark, the European Union, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. From the private sector, the Mitsubishi Corporation is a donor. UNOPS is the Fund Manager.