United Nations Capital Development Fund


UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries. With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF’s financing models work through two channels: financial inclusion that expands the opportunities for individuals, households, and small businesses to participate in the local economy, providing them with the tools they need to climb out of poverty and manage their financial lives; and by showing how localized investments — through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance — can drive public and private funding that underpins local economic expansion and sustainable development. By strengthening how finance works for poor people at the household, small enterprise, and local infrastructure levels, UNCDF contributes to SDG 1 on eradicating poverty and SDG 17 on the means of implementation. By identifying those market segments where innovative financing models can have transformational impact in helping to reach the last mile and address exclusion and inequalities of access, UNCDF contributes to a number of different SDGs.


Our History

UNCDF turns 50 in 2016, the very first year that the global community has been collectively called upon to step up to the challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The history of UNCDF is more than the story of an agency’s growth from a small fund financing stand-alone capital infrastructure, to an organization with the unique role of testing new financial models to reach the ‘last mile’, helping public and private actors develop sustainable models to support growth that is inclusive and sustainable. It is the story of an organization making a difference in poor people’s lives by building resilient communities, expanding access to infrastructure and bringing financial services to underserved markets. It is the story of women and men given the chance to live a better life thanks to innovative financing solutions for development.

Fifty years ago in 1966, the UN General Assembly established UNCDF to promote economic development. The immediate goal was “to assist developing countries in the development of their economies by supplementing existing sources of capital assistance by means of grants and loans.” In 1973, the General Assembly decided to reorient the UNCDF's activities towards “first and foremost the least developed among the developing countries”. At the heart of UNCDF’s philosophy, then and now, has been the concept of going the last mile for ending hunger, achieving full gender equality, and improving services – the belief that working together, we can assist LDCs to transform their economies and ensure that no one is left behind.

Today, in 30 LDCs, UNCDF is transforming poor people’s lives by increasing their access to the resources they need to break the cycle of poverty. While our programmes are diverse, our mission is singular – to make finance work for the poor. UNCDF financing models are applied in thematic areas where addressing barriers to finance at the local level can have a transformational effect for poor and excluded people and communities.

Much has been achieved in the years since 1966, but much remains to be done. Many people in the LDCs we serve still cannot access infrastructure, services and investment to benefit from and contribute to growth. Today, more than ever, UNCDF is committed to supporting transformative change in local economies improving the lives of those whom the SDGs are designed to serve.

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