Final evaluation of the Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (SHIFT) SAARC programme

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Evaluation Plan:
2018-2021, UNCDF
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
09/2021
Completion Date:
09/2021
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
78,700

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Title Final evaluation of the Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (SHIFT) SAARC programme
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2021, UNCDF
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 09/2021
Planned End Date: 09/2021
Management Response: Yes
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
Evaluation Budget(US $): 78,700
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 78,700
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
Maria Grandinson Team Leader
Etienne Mottet Inclusive Finance Expert
Shibaji Roy Financial Inclusion Expert
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: European Union - Government of Bangladesh
Countries: BANGLADESH
Lessons
1.

Lessons Learned. Based on the experience of the MDDRM component, a series of lessons learned can be drawn. These include both more general ones related to the MDDRM component as a whole and more specific ones related to pilot implementation and other MMDRM activities. In particular:

  • Sector-specific focus. Targeting a certain sector allows for a greater understanding of the particular needs of the final beneficiaries and, consequently, for the provision of more adequate support.
  • In-country presence. The provision of continuous support from an in-country team composed also competent and trusted local consultants is essential for understanding the country context as well as for creating and maintaining relationships, especially with national counterparts.
  • Implementing partners. The careful selection of implementing partners is important since lack of commitment and/or weak capacity can prove challenging for implementation and sustainability.
  • . Issues with procurement of business innovations pilots, but also of research work, should not be underestimated since the preparation of calls as well as the selection and contracting commonly take time.
  • Pilot implementation. Business innovations require time and resources to pilot and scale up and should hence be allowed sufficient implementation periods and support in order to promote results and ensure sustainability.
  • FMCG collaboration. Engaging with FMCG companies, especially larger ones, can be challenging since it requires the sharing of data and integration of processes and/or platforms.
  • IT challenges. Successfully developing and rolling a digital application can be a (too) demanding for companies without their own sufficient IT resources or reliable/established IT partnerships.
  • Core business activities. Similarly, companies usually perform better on activities close to their core business; hence the importance of partnerships for effective pilot implementation and scale-up.
  • Digital readiness. Even after having received support, not all MMs are willing or able to go completely digital.
  • Assisted outreach. Consequently, physical interactions by and support from market promoters and field officers still have an important role play not only in the onboarding of but also in the provision of follow-up support to MMs.
  • Value added. DFS uptake depends on the value added and business case of proposed solutions and the provision of bundles of products/services and other incentives are commonly useful to ensure effective onboarding and eventually reach scale.
  • Policy/regulatory support. Policy and regulatory work require continuous dialogue and efforts and should hence preferably not rely on ad hoc actions.
  • Gender. The inclusion of gender ambitions during the design phase or initial stages of implementation does not suffice since the integration of gender needs to be considered throughout in order for initiatives to effectively produce gender related results (also at the outcome and impact level).

Findings
1.

Overall Assessment. On the whole, the MDDRM component can be considered a successful initiative. A highly relevant undertaking, it was - and still is - well aligned with GoB priorities and the Bangladeshi economic context. It also adequately sought to identify and address the needs of MMs and GoB counterparts. However, because of its focus on the male dominated MM sub-sector and the closure of the BMGF-funded policy advocacy component in March 2019, MDDRM efforts, although seeking to involve women, did not completely build upon or materialize initial SHIFT SAARC ambitions regarding gender inclusion. The MDDRM component was also a generally coherent initiative, squarely in line with UNCDF’s global strategy, consistent with the intentions of the SHIFT SAARC programme as well as complementary to the BMGF-funded policy advocacy component. It was also fitted well and collaborated with other GoB and DP initiatives, effectively filling a gap by focusing on a generally neglected sub-sector of the Bangladeshi economy.

 

The MDDRM component successfully delivered on or beyond its output targets. In particular, it: produced important research on the MM segment and other relevant knowledge products (Pillar 1); trained thousands of MMs and other stakeholders (Pillar 2); carried out awareness raising activities for hundreds of thousands of individuals (Pillar 3); and implemented ten pilot initiatives with the onboarding of thousands of MMs in the four target by completion (Pillar 4). Beneficiaries and target groups largely report on high levels of satisfaction across all four pillars. MDDRM efforts also resulted in some important outcomes, with: the MM research being used by both policy makers/regulators and private sectors actors (Pillar 1); improved capacities and changes in business practices, but less in terms of DFS use (Pillar 2); possibly encouraging signs of DFS uptake among MMs and consumers as well as increasing attention to MMs among other stakeholders, also accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic (Pillar 3); and continued onboarding of MMs by pilot promoters, reaching tens of thousands in the four target districts and hundreds of thousands in the country overall (Pillar 4). Furthermore, beneficiaries and target groups generally accredit, at least partly, improvements to the support received.

 

Even if the MDDRM component suffered from delays caused by procurement issues and the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be considered a relatively efficient and cost-effective initiative. Governance structures were adequate, and the sufficiently staffed project management team is recognized for its quality and for having provided continuity. While the performance of implementing partners varied, the pilot promoters generally performed well. The risk management and reporting mechanisms were also sufficient, but the M&E framework - primarily tracking output delivery - included some gaps (also in terms of gender). Evidence of possible impact is limited and only anecdotal, but there are some signs of potential improvements with regard MMs’ value chain integration and business growth. MDDRM/UNCDF, particularly through the pilots, has seemingly also had some demonstration effects, with other actors increasingly interested in the MM segment and similar efforts reportedly underway. Gender related impacts are, however, likely modest. Finally, prospects for sustainability vary. The outlook at market level is promising, with pilot promoters investing financial and human resources to support their commitment to continue serving MMs. Prospects for sustainability among MMs also seem encouraging if incentives are obvious, while they are poor at the meso level. Policy makers/regulators are generally committed, but sustainability partly relies on additional support.

 

In conclusion, MDDRM/UNCDF acted as a catalyzer and facilitator, effectively kindling an interest in the MM segment and engaging MMs for last mile outreach. Adopting a market development approach, it invested important resources and leveraged partnerships towards supporting the MM/DFS ecosystem at all levels (albeit more at the micro and market level and less at the macro and meso level). Despite delays and other challenges (including the Covid-19 pandemic), it managed to achieve some notable results, even if longer term impact in terms of integration along the financial services and FMCG value chains as well as business growth - towards, ultimately, reducing poverty - have yet to manifest themselves. On the whole, the MDDRM component is expected to make a positive contribution to the inclusion of MMs in a digital economy as promoted by IDE’s global strategy.


Recommendations
1

Overall comments:

Management would first like to thank the evaluation team for their evidence, analysis and insights presented in the Final Evaluation of the Merchants Development Driving Rural Markets (MDDRM) in Bangladesh, a component of the Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (SHIFT) in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) programme. The Country Team and broader UNCDF Management Team found the recommendations provided useful feedback to consider while planning for the next phase of programming in the country.

One of the goals of the SHIFT SAARC programme and its MDDRM component is to stimulate investment, business innovations, capacity development, data analysis and regulatory reform to bring about lasting changes for low-income people. Specifically, it aims to expand economic participation and opportunities for women, and small and growing businesses to be active agents in the formal economy. The evaluation acknowledges that the MDDRM component has delivered several activities and outputs over the past five years including impactful research, ten innovation grants, capacity development of policy makers, regulators, partners, and entrepreneurs. It has built a coalition of public and private stakeholders in the DFS ecosystem.

The evaluation recognized that overall, the MDDRM component can be considered a successful initiative. In Bangladesh, MDDRM/UNCDF effectively acted as a catalyzer and facilitator, stimulating an interest in the micro-merchants’ segment and engaging micro-merchants’ for last mile outreach. Adopting a market development approach, it invested important resources and leveraged partnerships towards supporting the micro-merchants’/DFS ecosystem at all levels (albeit more at the micro and market level and less at the macro and meso level).

The team acknowledges some of the limitations highlighted by the evaluation team such as the need of combining in a more explicit manner financial and real economy sector work and allocate sufficient resources for this as well as the need of conducting a capacity assessment of the private sector partners and make provision for technical assistance during the implementation of the various business models to increase the impact in the market. The team recognizes that other aspects such as gender intentionality should be maintained during the whole implementation of the project and should be resourced properly with experts’ support. Another aspect that requires further attention for future is the M&E framework, which should include relevant indicators and targets related to all levels of the results chain (i.e. outputs, outcomes and impact).

Overall, UNCDF management accepts the recommendations of the evaluation. The evaluation’s recommendations will also be applied as UNCDF designs the next phase of its programming in the region under its new integrated “Leaving no one behind in the digital era” strategy.

2

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 1: Promote Focus on Real Economy Sectors

(i) Include considerations for combining financial and real economy sector work in its strategic planning (including the upcoming UNCDF strategic framework for the 2022-2025 period) (ii) Allocate dedicated resources to the implementation of similar initiatives; targeting not only the retail sector, but also other sectors (e.g. agribusiness, manufacturing, education, etc.) or sub-sectors depending of the priorities and needs of the country.

3

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 2: Maintain Holistic Approach of Interventions.

Continue to (i) support policy/regulatory assistance at the macro level, (ii) capacity building of support organizations at the meso level, (iii) funding for business innovations and solutions at the market level, (iv) training of final beneficiaries at the micro level, etc.

4

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 3: Assure In-country Presence.

(i)UNCDF/IDE management should allocate resources to maintain or strengthen its in-country presence. (ii) program/project management teams to rely on competent local consultants, as they are particularly important for building and maintaining relationships with national counterparts and implementing partners

5

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 4: Foster Effective Partnerships

(i) Program/project management teams and/or in-country UNCDF representatives should  carry out at least some basic/preliminary capacity (and commitment) assessments of potential implementing partners (including sector-specific associations in the case of integrated interventions) and, possibly, base the selection/involvement against some predefined criteria (e.g. a commitment to a certain amount, or type, of staff to be engaged in the implementation of an intervention) (ii) Some resources within UNCDF/IDE interventions should be dedicated to support the effective capacity building of implementing partners.

6

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 5: Build Business Innovation Initiatives

(i) Arrange provisions for follow-up support to a selected number of successful pilots instead of the provision of only pilot support to a larger number of initiatives (ii) UNCDF/IDE interventions should finance pilots through challenge grant funding - as traditionally supported by UNCDF – instead of procuring them as services i.e. it should be the market that proposes solutions to defined challenges, rather than UNCDF/IDE identifying which services should be provided.

7

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 6: Strengthen the M&E System beyond the Output Level.

(i) M&E systems of UNCDF/IDE interventions should include relevant indicators and targets related to all levels of the results chain (i.e. outputs, outcomes and impact) (ii) With regard to impact, selected UNCDF/IDE interventions could include provisions for the implementation of impact assessments one or two years after closure.

8

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 7: Reinforce the Knowledge Management Function

(i) Microentrepreneurs Asia portal be maintained and expanded, perhaps under the auspices of the UNCDF Regional Office for Asia. If not abandoned but rather built upon, this platform can serve as a valuable source of information covering numerous sectors and countries in Asia (or beyond). Since program/project related sites usually do not survive long after completion, a regional/global depository would allow DPs, governments, private sector actors, academia, etc. to access data and information as well as valuable lessons learned and best practices also after interventions have been implemented.

9

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 8: Sustain Gender Engagement beyond the Design/Preparatory Phase

(i) It is recommended that program/project management teams are supported by gender experts - either in-house staff from UNCDF’s regional offices or headquarters (and hence funded by regional/global budgets) or consultants engaged for specific interventions (and hence financed by individual program/project budgets) - not only in the design or initial phase of interventions, but also throughout the course of implementation. (ii) Furthermore, towards measuring effective change, the M&E systems of UNCDF/IDE interventions should move beyond output level indicators by including gender related indicators and targets also at the outcome and impact level.

1. Recommendation:

Overall comments:

Management would first like to thank the evaluation team for their evidence, analysis and insights presented in the Final Evaluation of the Merchants Development Driving Rural Markets (MDDRM) in Bangladesh, a component of the Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (SHIFT) in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) programme. The Country Team and broader UNCDF Management Team found the recommendations provided useful feedback to consider while planning for the next phase of programming in the country.

One of the goals of the SHIFT SAARC programme and its MDDRM component is to stimulate investment, business innovations, capacity development, data analysis and regulatory reform to bring about lasting changes for low-income people. Specifically, it aims to expand economic participation and opportunities for women, and small and growing businesses to be active agents in the formal economy. The evaluation acknowledges that the MDDRM component has delivered several activities and outputs over the past five years including impactful research, ten innovation grants, capacity development of policy makers, regulators, partners, and entrepreneurs. It has built a coalition of public and private stakeholders in the DFS ecosystem.

The evaluation recognized that overall, the MDDRM component can be considered a successful initiative. In Bangladesh, MDDRM/UNCDF effectively acted as a catalyzer and facilitator, stimulating an interest in the micro-merchants’ segment and engaging micro-merchants’ for last mile outreach. Adopting a market development approach, it invested important resources and leveraged partnerships towards supporting the micro-merchants’/DFS ecosystem at all levels (albeit more at the micro and market level and less at the macro and meso level).

The team acknowledges some of the limitations highlighted by the evaluation team such as the need of combining in a more explicit manner financial and real economy sector work and allocate sufficient resources for this as well as the need of conducting a capacity assessment of the private sector partners and make provision for technical assistance during the implementation of the various business models to increase the impact in the market. The team recognizes that other aspects such as gender intentionality should be maintained during the whole implementation of the project and should be resourced properly with experts’ support. Another aspect that requires further attention for future is the M&E framework, which should include relevant indicators and targets related to all levels of the results chain (i.e. outputs, outcomes and impact).

Overall, UNCDF management accepts the recommendations of the evaluation. The evaluation’s recommendations will also be applied as UNCDF designs the next phase of its programming in the region under its new integrated “Leaving no one behind in the digital era” strategy.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/10/22]

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 1: Promote Focus on Real Economy Sectors

(i) Include considerations for combining financial and real economy sector work in its strategic planning (including the upcoming UNCDF strategic framework for the 2022-2025 period) (ii) Allocate dedicated resources to the implementation of similar initiatives; targeting not only the retail sector, but also other sectors (e.g. agribusiness, manufacturing, education, etc.) or sub-sectors depending of the priorities and needs of the country.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/10/22]

Agreed. The focus of the EU funded initiative was to target micro-merchants but UNCDF as part of its strategy “Leaving no one behind in the digital era” is targeting a number of real economy sectors and will continue to do so in Bangladesh.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1 Bangladesh Country strategy 2021 -2025 updated to include considerations of combining financial and a real economy sectors (such as agritech, MSMEs etc.) as part of the priorities in the coming years..
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2021/12/16]
IDE Bangladesh 2021/12 Completed Comments: Digitization in agriculture sector (AgriTech) and MSME are identified as priority sectors in IDE’s 2021-25 country strategy. We have also launched a multi-country AgriTech RFA covering Bangladesh, among other countries, which intends to work on Agriculture value-chain digitization. The aim is to award the grants by February 2022. Specific to MSMEs, we are working on digital financial literacy content and have released 5 basic digital financial literacy modules on Shop-up and Ek-Shops website to support MSMEs in the country to benefit from digitization and formal financial services. History
1.2 Expand the innovation work (currently mostly undertaken in the retail space) to other sectors such as agribusiness, education etc. with the aim of attracting further funding.
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2022/03/17]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/03 Completed Provided a top-up grant to iFarmer, a lead Fintech in the agri-space which already reached over 11,000 farmers over a 2-year timeframe. History
3. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 2: Maintain Holistic Approach of Interventions.

Continue to (i) support policy/regulatory assistance at the macro level, (ii) capacity building of support organizations at the meso level, (iii) funding for business innovations and solutions at the market level, (iv) training of final beneficiaries at the micro level, etc.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/10/22]

Agreed. UNCDF has already started to tackle these recommendations as part of the other ongoing initiatives in the country. We are already extensively engaging with the policy makers/regulators for Bangladesh’s Inclusive Digital Economy Scorecard (IDES) Assessment. This is positioned as an annual exercise that will support the government in assessing progress and identifying interventions needed to build Bangladesh’s digital economy. We are also funding business innovations and solutions through the Women Enterprise Recovery Fund (WERF) and planning to further strengthen similar initiatives in the country.  For training of final beneficiaries at the micro level, we have developed literacy modules with VISA’s support and will soon launch the modules for final beneficiaries to access and benefit from.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.2. Support GoB in leveraging digital finance for managing fiscal gaps in the financing of SDG-7 (a priority SDG of UNCDF as part of the Integrating National Financing Framework (INFF) initiative) with financial support from the SDG Fund (Macro-level)
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2022/06/20]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/12 Initiated The fiscal spacing exercise is currently underway in Bangladesh and will be completed by end of the year History
2.5. Build up digital and financial literacy skills of 200,000 Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) through digital platforms (out of which 25% should be women owned or led SMBs) with funding from VISA ( micro level)
[Added: 2021/10/22]
IDE Bangladesh 2023/06 Initiated History
2.1. Conduct IDES Assessment, working with the Government of Bangladesh, aimed at identifying intervention areas (such as skills, innovation, infrastructure and policy & regulation) needed to further strengthen the country’s inclusive digital economy (capturing macro, meso and miso-levels recommendations).
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2022/06/20]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/06 Completed IDES 2020 was conducted during 2021 and the findings were presented in a multi-stakeholder consultation with participation from Bangladesh Bank, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, A2I and many other esteemed government entities. The team is in the process of conducting IDES 2021.The link to the IDES for Bangladesh is here and will be updated regularly with the most recent data. History
2.3. Launch and institutionalize a Financial Innovation Lab (FinLab BD) with UNDP supported initiative Access to Information (a2i) working towards identification, mentoring and acceleration of private public sector stakeholders, their business models and digital solutions that accelerates inclusive digital economy and achievement of SDGs (meso-level)
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2021/12/16]
IDE Bangladesh 2021/12 Completed UNCDF has partnered with a2i and MicroSave and officially launched the FinLab BD on 24th October 2021 and work is underway to launch the first cohort looking for business solutions that accelerates inclusive digital economy and achievement of SDGs. History
2.4. Continue to fund innovative projects at the market level by leveraging on the innovations funded as part of the MDDRM initiative
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2022/06/20]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/06 Completed Building on the lessons learned from the MDDRM funded investments, UNCDF has continued to fund innovative business models such as Wagely and Quizzr/Ulula that are focusing on the ready-made garments (RMG) sector digitization, and financial health of RMG workers. History
4. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 3: Assure In-country Presence.

(i)UNCDF/IDE management should allocate resources to maintain or strengthen its in-country presence. (ii) program/project management teams to rely on competent local consultants, as they are particularly important for building and maintaining relationships with national counterparts and implementing partners

Management Response: [Added: 2021/10/22]

Accepted and UNCDF has already started acting on these recommendations

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1. Hire a dedicated International Digital Expert for Bangladesh to lead the IDE portfolio in the country for ensuring regular engagement with key government and private sector stakeholders
[Added: 2021/10/22]
IDE Bangladesh 2021/06 Completed An International Digital Expert came on board in Q2 2021 to oversee the whole IDE portfolio in the country and expand UNCDF strategic partnerships. History
3.2. Maintain a support team for IDE Bangladesh comprising of dedicated programme and operations focal points
[Added: 2021/10/22]
IDE Bangladesh 2021/09 Completed Despite the biggest programme in terms of funding (MDDRM) came to an end in Bangladesh, UNCDF has decided to maintain a core team in country (one national officer and one operations consultant) to ensure the continuation of its operations for the future. History
5. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 4: Foster Effective Partnerships

(i) Program/project management teams and/or in-country UNCDF representatives should  carry out at least some basic/preliminary capacity (and commitment) assessments of potential implementing partners (including sector-specific associations in the case of integrated interventions) and, possibly, base the selection/involvement against some predefined criteria (e.g. a commitment to a certain amount, or type, of staff to be engaged in the implementation of an intervention) (ii) Some resources within UNCDF/IDE interventions should be dedicated to support the effective capacity building of implementing partners.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/10/22]

Accepted and UNCDF has already started acting on these recommendations

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.2 Ensure provisions are made to provide technical assistance to private sector partners to carry on the agreed interventions
[Added: 2021/10/22]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/09 Initiated UNCDF has been providing technical assistance to two partners EkShop and ShopUp selected as part of the digital financial literacy initiative to finalize basic training modules and will provide further assistance to finalize the advanced training modules by Q3 2022. In addition, partners selected under the Women Enterprise Recovery Fund will also benefit from some specific technical assistance to support them targeting women businesses to recover from COVID-19 impacts.
4.1. Ensure partners’ selection follows UNCDF best practices and is undertaken through Requests for Applications which have standard templates for submissions with standardized criteria for evaluation as well as provisions for co-financing commitments. It also allows for due diligence prior to private sector partners’ selection.
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2022/03/17]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/03 Completed Published a couple of RFAs inviting application of digital solutions and business models in the space of Agritech and RMG sector in Bangladesh. Both these calls offer standard templates for submissions with standardized criteria for evaluation as well as provisions for co-financing commitments. History
6. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 5: Build Business Innovation Initiatives

(i) Arrange provisions for follow-up support to a selected number of successful pilots instead of the provision of only pilot support to a larger number of initiatives (ii) UNCDF/IDE interventions should finance pilots through challenge grant funding - as traditionally supported by UNCDF – instead of procuring them as services i.e. it should be the market that proposes solutions to defined challenges, rather than UNCDF/IDE identifying which services should be provided.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/10/22]

Accepted and UNCDF has already started acting on these recommendations. However, it is important to highlight that the procurement modality for innovations under MDDRM was due to certain contractual obligations.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 Support the scale up of at least one of the successful innovation pilots that UNCDF supported through grant financing - preferably in the space of agriculture value chain enhancement
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2021/12/16]
IDE Bangladesh 2021/12 Completed UNCDF topped up the agreement with iFarmer, an AgriTech partner, in an effort to support the scaleup through onboarding 700 more women farmers (for a total outreach of 1,500) on Sofol iFarmer app and providing them with financing based on the existing crowdfunding business model. Besides, 5 collection centers and 1 central warehouse have also been set up as part of the scaleup support to iFarmer History
5.2 Leverage UNCDF private sector selection best practices by adopting Requests for Applications allowing to co-create the solution together with the private sector partners
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2022/03/17]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/03 Completed Published a couple of RFAs inviting application of digital solutions and business models in the space of Agritech and RMG sector in Bangladesh. Both these calls request at least 30% co-financing from the partners as well as due-diligence to be undertaken prior to partner selection stage. This allows for many interactions with the partners to ensure the solution is co-created together with UNCDF. History
7. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 6: Strengthen the M&E System beyond the Output Level.

(i) M&E systems of UNCDF/IDE interventions should include relevant indicators and targets related to all levels of the results chain (i.e. outputs, outcomes and impact) (ii) With regard to impact, selected UNCDF/IDE interventions could include provisions for the implementation of impact assessments one or two years after closure.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/10/22]

Accepted although the second recommendation is more difficult to implement with the funds available within the project cycle

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1. Leverage the global IDE M&E framework, indicators and Theory of Change in all the interventions at country level.
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2022/03/17]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/03 Completed M&E templates of all ongoing interventions are fully aligned with IDE results framework at the corporate level History
6.2. Make provision for more formalized measurement of impact as part of UNCDF programming in country
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2022/06/20]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/06 Completed Building on the experience of the MDDRM initiative, the team in Bangladesh has put in place a more regular monitoring of the current investments in alignment with the Inclusive Digital Economy (IDE) templates. Also as part of one initiative i.e. Build back better focused at increasing digital financial capabilities for small and micro businesses, the team has been assessing the impact of the modules launched by conducted through assessment exercise with our project partners. The basic module assessment is now conducted and under review process and will be disseminated widely through workshops. History
8. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 7: Reinforce the Knowledge Management Function

(i) Microentrepreneurs Asia portal be maintained and expanded, perhaps under the auspices of the UNCDF Regional Office for Asia. If not abandoned but rather built upon, this platform can serve as a valuable source of information covering numerous sectors and countries in Asia (or beyond). Since program/project related sites usually do not survive long after completion, a regional/global depository would allow DPs, governments, private sector actors, academia, etc. to access data and information as well as valuable lessons learned and best practices also after interventions have been implemented.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/10/22]

Accepted and UNCDF has already started acting on these recommendations

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1. Incorporate all knowledge materials, data sets from the MDDRM projects into UNCDF website.
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2022/03/17]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/03 Completed The most relevant knowledge materials from MDDRM project have been published on UNCDF website (accessible here). Additional materials can be shared on a need-basis to key/strategic stakeholders. https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.uncdf.org%2Fsearch-results%3FcategoryId%3D93&data=04%7C01%7Cchristophe.legrand%40uncdf.org%7C68255ac9b8664d534ec208da07f8fc44%7Cb3e5db5e2944483799f57488ace54319%7C0%7C0%7C637831063201497219%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000&sdata=S44ABaPzSNVb6VPUguyRjjxhkZMOWMVPwjYQpGiZKPo%3D&reserved=0 History
9. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 8: Sustain Gender Engagement beyond the Design/Preparatory Phase

(i) It is recommended that program/project management teams are supported by gender experts - either in-house staff from UNCDF’s regional offices or headquarters (and hence funded by regional/global budgets) or consultants engaged for specific interventions (and hence financed by individual program/project budgets) - not only in the design or initial phase of interventions, but also throughout the course of implementation. (ii) Furthermore, towards measuring effective change, the M&E systems of UNCDF/IDE interventions should move beyond output level indicators by including gender related indicators and targets also at the outcome and impact level.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/10/22]

Accepted and UNCDF has already started acting on these recommendations

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
8.1. Ensure UNCDF projects gather inputs/insights from Global Gender Expert/s who will be responsible for ensuring gender-intentionality of interventions at both design and implementation stages of projects
[Added: 2021/10/22] [Last Updated: 2022/06/20]
IDE Bangladesh 2022/06 Completed At the beginning of 2022 the Bangladesh team arranged a gender lens investing training for 5 partners in the country. The training focused on providing data/evidence backed solutions to challenges faced by private sector partners to reach the women segment and integrate gender aspects into product development. As a result of the training UNCDF published the blog on “Chicken or egg”: How to increase women users on digital platforms. History
8.2. Conduct training sessions on UNCDF Gender Playbook for the IDE Bangladesh team
[Added: 2021/10/22]
IDE Bangladesh 2021/06 Completed A session on UNCDF Gender Playbook was arranged by UNCDF Gender team for the benefit of all the UNCDF colleagues. In addition, the IDE M&E framework which is the base of each initiative M&E framework focuses on sex disaggregated data at all levels (outputs, outcomes, impact)

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