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World Food Programme (WFP) Phase II: Implementation and Advocacy Initiatives to Facilitate Digital Financial Inclusion for Social Safety Net Beneficiaries

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LightCastle Analytics Wing
May 12, 2024
World Food Programme (WFP) Phase II: Implementation and Advocacy Initiatives to Facilitate Digital Financial Inclusion for Social Safety Net Beneficiaries

Figure 1: Group activities from the first session with DWA officials

The Opportunity

World Food Programme (WFP) Bangladesh is currently implementing the Vulnerable Women Benefit (VWB) Programme in urban and rural areas, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA). The VWB Programme’s overall aim is to ensure that the essential needs of these vulnerable women (including food and nutrition needs for themselves and their families) are provided.

Additionally, this Programme is improving the resilience and overall livelihoods of the safety net beneficiaries by enabling the financial ecosystem, mainly through a digital cash transfer programme.

Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), in Bangladesh, WFP is working closely with MoWCA to unearth strategies to help achieve a greater and sustainable impact for these women through large-scale Government-to-Person (G2P) payments.

The Approach

To increase digital financial inclusion among vulnerable women groups and recipients of Social Safety Net Programmes, LightCastle partners have spearheaded the following interventions:

As part of these interventions, day-long sessions for DWA Officials were jointly hosted by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Department of Women Affairs (DWA), with technical support from LightCastle Partners on the 16th, 20th, and 28th of November.

The primary goal of the sessions was to sensitize DWA officials from 64 districts on how digital financial inclusion can foster poverty alleviation and women’s economic empowerment.

Additionally, the project has successfully organized two Training of Trainer (TOT) sessions for the field-level staff of DWA, known as ‘Tottho Apa’. The primary objective of these sessions is to equip the staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to conduct subsequent training sessions targeting beneficiaries of the Social Safety Net Programme (SSNP).

A group of Tottho Apa presenting the steps to save money through Mobile Financial Services and its benefits for a vulnerable woman
Figure 2: A group of Tottho Apa presenting the steps to save money through Mobile Financial Services and its benefits for a vulnerable woman

In addition, a Digital Financial Literacy Training module was developed concurrently with the aim of instructing both the beneficiaries and officials of Tottho Apa, thereby contributing to the improvement of the technical literacy of individuals receiving periodic social safety net payments.

Alongside, two workshops were conducted with private sector and government stakeholders, including Mobile Financial Service providers (MSPs), Banks, Micro Finance Institutions, NGOs, Fintech companies, Ministries such as the Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Microcredit Regulatory Authority, Bangladesh Bank. These sessions focused on how MFS agents and agent banking networks are the first points of contact that can be effectively utilized for ensuring better service delivery to beneficiaries at the ‘last mile’.

Based on these discussions, a Social Behavioral Recommendations (SBR) guideline was formulated which was positively received by representatives from the financial service sector.  

Director General of Department of Women Affairs ceremoniously handing over the SBR to Director of Payment Systems Department, Bangladesh Bank
Figure 3: Director General of Department of Women Affairs ceremoniously handing over the SBR to Director of Payment Systems Department, Bangladesh Bank

Subsequently, the recommendations on social behavior were transformed into e-learning content on digital financial literacy. These AVs have been incorporated into different e-learning platforms and have been made available on Youtube.

The Future

Agent Banking and Mobile Financial Services (MFS) play crucial roles in fostering financial inclusion and promoting economic advancement in Bangladesh. These interventions have the potential to enhance the adoption and utilization of digital financial services among vulnerable women.

Additionally, by implementing capacity-building programs like training, women can develop improved financial capabilities and gain empowerment through access to formal financial services. This, in turn, can lead to enhanced economic opportunities, entrepreneurship, and income generation.


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WRITTEN BY: LightCastle Analytics Wing

At LightCastle, we take a data-driven approach to create opportunities for growth and impact. We consult and collaborate with development partners, the public sector, and private organizations to promote inclusive economic growth that positively changes the lives of people at scale. Being a data-driven and transparent organization, we believe in democratizing knowledge and information among the stakeholders of the economy to drive inclusive growth.

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