People across the socioeconomic and geographical spectrum need a diverse range of financial services to run their businesses, build assets, and manage risks or emergencies. People need access to such basic financial services as savings, loans, money transfer services and insurance.
Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia with high rates of both poverty and unemployment. The poor and low-income population is at present largely excluded from access to financial services and thus forms the core target group for the development of an inclusive finance sector.
In Timor-Leste, Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) helps oversee the implementation of the The Inclusive Finance for the Under-served Economy (INFUSE) Programme through provision of technical support and expertise. The INFUSE Programme is funded by UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Timor Leste, the Ministry of Economy and Development (MoED) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
The overarching goal of the INFUSE Programme is to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular Goal 1 of cutting absolute poverty in Timor-Leste by one third by 2015, by increasing sustainable access to financial services for the poor and low-income people, both male and female.
In Timor-Leste there are a number of challenges to building an inclusive financial sector, including a focus on credit-led models, as well as inexperienced human resources, infrastructure, regulations, and financial literacy levels. The INFUSE programme was launched to address some of these gaps.
INFUSE provides support to a range of stakeholders including financial service providers, business support service providers, technical service providers and the regulatory authority in an effort to increase access to financial services for the Timorese people.
The INFUSE Programme was jointly implemented in September 2008 by the UNCDF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Timor-Leste. It currently receives support from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Government of Timor-Leste (GoTL) through the Ministry of Economy and Development (MoED), and is scheduled to run through 2012.