Project Case Study
Reviewing the Australian Government’s Financial Services for the Poor Strategy
Helping Australia improve people's access to financial services
The Australian Government’s ‘Financial Services for the Poor: A strategy for the Australian aid program 2010-15’ was launched in March 2010. It provides a coherent framework to guide the Australian Aid programme in achieving its goal of increasing poor people’s access to financial services in developing countries.
The Strategy’s Four Outcomes guide the Australian Government’s investments in financial services programmes.
They are to develop:
- A policy and regulatory environment that allows institutions offering financial services to the poor to enter the market and grow.
- Financial services providers and infrastructure that have the capacity to provide high quality financial services for the poor.
- Innovation models of providing financial services that effectively reach regions and groups currently lacking access.
- Increased capacity of clients to understand and use financial services effectively.
At the Strategy’s mid-point in 2013 Adam Smith International was asked to conduct an independent review to assess the performance of Australian Aid FS4P programmes against these four outcomes. We developed an innovative review methodology that measured the strategic ‘fit’ of the 75 projects in the FS4P portfolio. The methodology also utilised the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee’s (OECD DAC) criteria of Relevance, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Impact and Sustainability, as well as other measures of importance to the Australian Government including gender impact, monitoring and evaluation and leveraged learning. Our work included field missions to Myanmar/Burma, Indonesia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea to supplement our review with local observations and insights.
Our 22 recommendations to the Australian Aid programme for improving the Strategy related to greater acknowledgement of informal financial services, increasing the focus of projects on their impact on poverty reduction, and improving design, knowledge management and coordination of FS4P projects. These recommendations were made to support the Australian Government in achieving the Strategy’s goal of increasing poor people’s access to financial services in developing countries.