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Social finance

With an emphasis on social justice, the ILO's Social Finance Programme supports efforts to extend financial services to excluded persons by addressing two main goals:
  • The promotion of better employment; and
  • A reduction in the vulnerability of the working poor.
The pursuit of better employment means creating jobs and improving the quality of employment through innovative financial services and conducive policies. The reduction of vulnerability can be achieved by improving access to appropriate risk managing financial services, including microinsurance.

What's New

  1. Training

    Financial education programme design and implementation: a course for policy-makers and practitioners

    From 15 to 26 November, the ILO's Social Finance Programme and the International Training Centre of the ILO will organize the training "Financial education programme design and implementation: a course for policy-makers and practitioners". During this course, you will discuss experiences, lessons learned and international practical knowledge gained in this field. We will provide you with relevant tools, frameworks and instruments, and we will share the best practices applied by various institutions and actors globally.

  2. Publication

    2020 Annual Report

    The 2020 Annual Report highlights the achievements of the Social Finance Programme over the last year in its three main streams of work – financial inclusion, impact insurance and sustainable investing.

  3. Financial education

    New training material available to upgrade refugees’ and host communities’ financial education skills

    The latest ILO Trainee’s booklet in Financial Education for Refugees and Host Communities is finally out! Full of realistic case studies and a series of interactive activities, this new trainee’s booklet is meant to disseminate key financial education messages to refugees and host communities of East Africa, in the framework of the PROSPECTS project. After being thoroughly reviewed after both financial education trainings in Kenya and Ethiopia, this new booklet is available for you to check out!

  4. Publication

    From cash to digital wage payments in the Philippines: Win-win for enterprises and women employees

    The ILO, in partnership with Women’s World Banking, assessed the awareness, use and acceptance of digital wage payments among enterprises and workers in the Philippines. The research study analyses the financial behaviors and attitudes of Filipino workers and the benefits and challenges for enterprises and workers to move from cash to digital wage payments. The study discusses the importance to capitalize on the momentum created by an enabling environment and the pandemic to scale the transition from cash to digital and drive the wide adoption and usage of responsible digital wage payments. Read more.

  5. Brief

    Microfund for Women, experience in serving refugees and host communities in Jordan

    In a new brief, focussing on “Making Finance Work for Refugees”, Social Finance documents the experience of MFW Jordan. MFW aims to provide sustainable (non-)financial services to poor (female) entrepreneurs and to empower them socio-economically. Since broadening its product portfolio to meet refugees’ needs, MFW has been more exposed and familiarized with the new client segments and learned how to serve them effectively. Read more.

  6. Launch event

    Launch of the ILO’s financial inclusion initiative for displaced and host communities in Iraq

    March 31 saw the launch of the "Financial Inclusion Initiative in Iraq" was launched, developed in partnership with the Central Bank of Iraq. The Financial Inclusion Initiative is supported by the Government of Netherlands, within the framework of the Partnership for improving prospects for forcibly displaced persons and host communities (PROSPECTS)Click here to consult the ILO’s financial inclusion strategy in Iraq.

  7. Announcement

    A new initiative to accelerate the transition from cash to digital wage payments

    The Social Finance Programme is excited to announce the establishment of a “Global Centre on Digital Wages for Decent Work”. The Global Centre will enhance sustainable enterprises, promote respect of workers’ rights and broaden financial inclusion.

  8. Brief

    Rokin Banks’ responses to the COVID-19 outbreak in Japan

    Like any other country, the population and economy of Japan are badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The preliminary figures for real GDP in the second quarter of 2020 show a decline of 7.8%. Rokin Banks (a network of 13 union-led cooperative financial institutions) are well positioned to provide support and protect the livelihoods of workers and their families, given their 70-year-experience in building an inclusive society and advancing financial inclusion of workers. Read about the special measures that Rokin Banks have recently introduced in this short brief.

  9. Online training

    Insurance for development

    Join us for a brand new online course – Insurance for Development – which will take place from September 28 to October 30, 2020.This self-paced training includes a combination of e-learning modules and live webinars. During the course, you will build your capacity to develop business models and strategies to provide insurance solutions to development objectives, without compromising your bottom line. 

  10. Sustainable investing

    From sustainability commitment to impact – how a social and environmental management system translates intention into action

    A social and environmental management system (SEMS) supports companies and their financiers to improve business performance and realizing sustainability commitments. Our featured article in the 2019 Annual Report of the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) highlights the relevance of a SEMS, in particular for financial institutions, and elaborates the core elements of a SEMS. Based on our decade-long work with multiple institutions, we also discuss typical challenges in developing and implementing such systems and propose ways how to address them successfully. Read on and contact us if you would like to know more.

  11. Publication

    From cash to digital wage payments in Vietnam: Win-win for enterprises and workers

    The ILO, in partnership with Women’s World Banking, assessed the awareness, use and acceptance of digital wage payments among enterprises and workers in Vietnam. The resulting study includes an analysis of the financial behaviors and attitudes of Vietnamese workers, the benefits and challenges for enterprises to move from cash to digital wage payments, and an assessment of the effect of digital wage payments on the financial inclusion of the workers, with a specific attention to female workers.

  12. Podcast

    Launch of the ILO's Social Finance Podcast

    We are proud to launch the ILO’s Social Finance Podcast, which brings you insights from around the world, highlighting how financial services contribute to social and economic development. Read more

  13. Distance learning

    E-learning on financial education

    Turn the extraordinary times of COVID-19 into an opportunity to build up your knowledge through distance learning. Take for example our e-learning on financial education. Learn the skills needed to better manage your personal finances. The course is based on more than 10 years of experience in training +100,000 people worldwide.

  14. Publication

    The contribution of SSE and social finance to the future of work

    The Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) and its innovative financing mechanisms offer potential to the future of work - for example by creating and preserving jobs and reducing social inequality. Our latest publication analyses a number of SSE initiatives in the context of changes in the world of work.

  15. International Women’s Day

    Thematic page: Gender and financial inclusion

    In many societies, women face discrimination and are disproportionately vulnerable. Unequal gender roles have implications for the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom. These in turn influence financial inclusion, or lack thereof. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we are proud to launch our thematic page, which includes examples of Social Finance’s work on gender and financial inclusion.

  16. Event

    The SSE Momentum: Finance for inclusion and the future of work

    The international conference "SSE Momentum" brought together around 100 participants to discuss the role of the social and solidarity economy (SSE) and supporting financial mechanisms in promoting decent work and sustainable development. Read the full news story here.

  17. Partnership

    The International Labour Organization joins the Better Than Cash Alliance

    The International Labour Organization has joined the Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA) and commits to increasing the use of responsible digital payments to boost financial inclusion, transparency and efficiency.

    The Social Finance team and Better Work support the BTCA's mission and will work on the extension of affordable and accessible payments to low-income people, the creation of cost savings, increased transparency and security, the promotion of decent work, economic development and the broadening of financial inclusion.

    The partnership was officially announced in November 2019.

  18. Promise Impact

    Event: Impact evaluation in Indonesia - bundled financial and non-financial services

    The Social Finance Programme organized a special event at the ILO headquarters, where we presented the results of the impact evaluation of the bundled financial and non-financial services provision in Indonesia. Click here to learn more about this event.

  19. ILO100

    Social Finance celebrates the ILO centenary!

    The International Labour Organization turns 100 this year, and Social Finance joins in on the celebrations! The anniversary has been captured in a two-page spread from our partner, the European Microfinance Platform. Social Finance has played an important role in the work of the ILO – and its history goes back farther than you might think!

  20. Event

    Financial education: Programme design and implementation for policymakers and practitioners

    This year saw the launch of a new training programme bringing together all the accumulated experience, lessons learned and best practices from a variety of actors and institutions globally. Click here to find out more about the first edition which we organized in Turin, Italy, in October 2018.

  21. Event

    10 years of Impact Insurance!

    The ILO’s Impact Insurance Facility celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2018! We are proud of our decade-long journey to enable the insurance sector, governments and their partners to reduce households’ vulnerability, promote stronger enterprises and facilitate better public policies. Through the year, we shared lessons and experiences from the past, examined the current trends, and presented ideas for the future.

  22. Event

    Social Finance Network meeting - Mobile money and digital payments: opportunities to support the Decent Work agenda

    The Social Finance Programme organized a session on mobile money and digital payments and its opportunities to support the Decent Work agenda. The knowledge sharing session took place at the ILO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 5. Click here for more information.

  23. Event

    MyFinCoop – a new training programme for financial cooperative apex organizations
    4-8 December 2017 - Kasoa, Ghana

    The training workshop was organized for the Ghana Credit Unions Association (CUA) in collaboration with the International Training Centre of the ILO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This new training programme called MyFinCoop aims at empowering financial cooperative apex organizations and other support institutions including policy makers and regulators to advance the scale and effectiveness of financial cooperatives. The training workshop brought together 26 board members, managers, and trainers of CUA, leaders of primary credit unions and regulators. Click here for more information.

  24. Event

    Seminar: Achieving the double bottom line: Inclusive finance and social performance management.

    As part of PROMISE IMPACT​, a seminar was organized on 14th of December 2016 to share experiences and practices in delivering financial and non-financial services by financial institutions to achieve what is often referred as the “double bottom line”.
    The purpose of the seminar is to provide a platform for exchanging knowledge in inclusive finance, decent work and social performance management (SPM) as part of a strategy to achieve economic and social development.