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About us

We work to reduce poverty by strengthening Africa’s financial markets.

We work to reduce poverty by strengthening Africa’s financial markets.

Established in 2012 and supported by UK aid, FSD Africa is a specialist development agency working to build and strengthen financial markets across sub-Saharan Africa.

FSD Africa is incorporated as a non-profit company limited by guarantee in Kenya. It is funded by UK aid from the UK government.

We work to reduce poverty through a ‘market systems development’ approach, which means we aim to address the structural, underlying causes of poverty by improving how financial market systems function.

At FSD Africa, our programming is designed to address systemic challenges within Africa’s financial markets, with the aim of sparking large-scale and long-term change. Our interventions are designed from the ground up, to ensure that Africa’s financial markets better serve those most in need – today, and long after our programmes end.

From our headquarters in Nairobi, our team of over 35 financial sector experts lead ambitious programmes spanning 28 countries across the continent.

FSD Africa is part of a family of 11 financial sector deepening, or FSDprogrammes, operating across sub-Saharan Africa, known as the FSD Network. Together, the network provides over £50m a year in financial support to high-potential financial market development programmes, and employs over 150 financial sector experts, based in local offices across Africa.

As the FSD Network’s regional programme, FSD Africa works to strengthen the impact of individual FSDs and the network as a whole. We regularly convene the community, provide capacity building support, and foster opportunities for collaboration.

We believe healthy financial markets are the foundation of a fair and thriving economy.

We know that healthy financial markets build the foundations for a thriving economy, where funding for basic services is assured, where businesses are able to grow and create jobs, and where people have the freedom to manage their own lives.

We believe that a financial system that is accessible, stable and transparent, can also help to create the conditions for a fair and sustainable future.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen that investing in strengthening financial markets drives economic growth, boosts the income of the poorest people and reduces poverty.

Strong capital markets provide governments and businesses alike with access to the long-term finance they need to invest in basic services that are critical to poverty reduction, from essential infrastructure projects to healthcare and education.

Today, high-potential businesses across sub-Saharan Africa – both formal and informal, micro and even multinational – find it difficult to access the capital they need to scale and grow. However, when businesses have access to the right types of finance, they’re able to expand, manage risk and in turn create jobs, increase incomes and generate tax revenues.

We’ve seen first-hand that improving access to useful financial services gives people the freedom to manage their own lives. A new savings product, affordable health insurance model, or an innovative payments platform can give people the tools they need to pay for essential services like energy, housing and education – or to build the financial safety net they need to protect their families in moments of crisis.

We believe that investing in building a financial system that is transparent, stable and accessible creates the conditions for a fair and sustainable future, where inequality is reduced, corruption is tackled, and where individuals, businesses and governments alike are able to prepare for future challenges, from climate change to political instability.

Read more about the research underpinning our approach here.

Based in Nairobi, our team works to strengthen, expand and deepen Africa’s financial sector.

We support breakthrough ideas that we believe will transform Africa’s financial markets.

Our team of financial sector experts work alongside governments, business leaders, regulators and policy makers to design and build ambitious programmes that make financial markets work better for everyone.

We design our programmes around the needs of our partners. Depending on the project, we can provide a combination of grants, investment capital, market insights or technical assistance to ensure we achieve our objectives.

We deliver programmes where the potential for impact is greatest. Across our programmes, we focus on increasing gender equality and we are working to grow our footprint in fragile and conflict-affected states.

 

Across Africa, financial markets are failing to live up to their potential to deliver poverty-reducing benefits. Benchmarked against counterparts worldwide, Africa’s financial sector remains narrow, shallow and relatively fragile. The financing gap for formal Micro Small and Medium Enterprises amounts to $70-90bn per year in sub-Saharan Africa, while the addressable gap for private finance in infrastructure projects is at least $12bn per annum. In most sub-Saharan countries, private credit as a percentage of GDP is well below 20%, the global average for low income countries, including in Nigeria and Ethiopia, Africa’s most populous nations.

At FSD Africa, our team of 35 financial sector experts works to strengthen, expand and deepen Africa’s financial sector. We partner with all the critical branches of Africa’s financial markets, to develop effective financial sector development programmes. Our programmes are designed to address the most pressing challenges facing Africa’s financial sector, from long-term finance to climate change to affordable housing.

We focus our work where the need is greatest, and where we believe the potential for impact is the most significant. As a result, a growing share of our programmes is in fragile and conflict-affected states, where only 8% of adults have access to financial services and access to capital for essential business and infrastructure projects is substantially lower than the regional average.

As a financial sector development agency, we have a specific mandate to invest in breakthrough, innovative ideas that we believe can have a transformative impact. By sharing risk with our partners, we’re able to address more difficult, persistent, or higher-risk challenges, in more unstable or fragile geographies, than traditional development finance organisations.

By expanding our programming on these issues, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states, we aim to put in place foundations upon which the development community can build.