FinDev Guide

FinDev COVID-19 Update | 25 Mar - 07 Apr 2021

Roundup of the most relevant coronavirus-related resources for the microfinance and financial inclusion community
A woman picks cotton as she carries her child on her back. Photo by Allison Shelley for CGAP.

FinDev Gateway has created this COVID-19 Update with the latest and most relevant knowledge resources for financial inclusion. Sign up here if you'd like to get this update delivered to your inbox. 

If you have content to share in our COVID-19 update, please submit here or contact us directly. 

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Global Update

  • A new World Bank analysis confirms that women, young people and less-educated workers in low and middle-income countries were more likely to lose their job at the onset of the pandemic and are now experiencing a slower return to work than other groups.
  • The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) introduced a new database with information on central banks’ responses to COVID-19 in 39 economies around the world. 
  • The Center for Financial Inclusion has launched a new post-pandemic financial inclusion strategy
  • The Innovation for Poverty Action said it is safely returning to in-person research and has already started doing so in 17 countries mostly in Africa.



  • Political instability in Myanmar is exacerbating the negative economic impact and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, as foreign-owned financial institutions debate whether to remain in the country.
  • A second wave of coronavirus cases in India could delay the recovery of non-bank financial institutions, according to Fitch Ratings, as several states impose stricter social distancing measures which could affect economic activity. However, the MFI association MFIN believes that the new restrictions will not impact collections, because the government of India has declared microfinance to be an essential service. 
  • MFIs in the Philippines were reminded that, although an Enhanced Community Quarantine has been issued due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, no mandatory grace period has been given for loan or interest payments at this time.
  • Cambodia has launched a $200 million guarantee scheme to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic by enhancing their access to business loans from participating financial institutions.
  • The Pakistani government has decided to launch a $13 million self-employment scheme to offer interest-free small loans for people to start or strengthen small businesses as part of its pro-poor economic revival package.
  • Pakistan is emerging as a strong market for digital finance after the pandemic accelerated digital payments. The mobile wallet EasyPaisa experienced a 54 percent increase in active users during 2020 as well as an increase in throughput of 64 percent.
  • India had the highest number of real-time digital payment transactions in the world in 2020, at 25.5 billion transactions, according to a new report from global software company ACI Worldwide, and was followed by China, South Korea and Thailand. 
  • Indian MFI Bharat Financial Inclusion has announced it will cover the costs of COVID-19 vaccinations for all of its 28,000 employees.




Some articles and knowledge resources referenced in this section are in French.

  • Households in Nigeria and Uganda with a member in a women’s savings group coped with the COVID-19 crisis better than those not in savings groups, according to a report by the Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups. Women for Women International also found that their savings groups provided an important source of support for their members during the pandemic as they adapted to a virtual model using mobile apps.
  • The pandemic exacerbated the lower rates of financial inclusion among women-led MSMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa compared with male-led MSMEs due to their smaller size and concentration in hard-hit sectors, according to this IFC report
  • The Central Bank of West African States has launched a guide to digitizing payments in the WAEMU region, as G2P payments are increasingly being used to send COVID-19 relief to the population.
  • Mastercard’s $100 million investment in the mobile money operations of telco giant Airtel Africa is seen as an indicator of confidence in the region’s digital payments sector, which has grown significantly during the pandemic
  • Fintechs are helping hard-hit MSMEs in South Africa’s townships to recover from the impact of the pandemic by facilitating their access to financial services such as digital transaction records or remote ordering and payments solutions.


For more on Africa, check out the latest Portail FinDev Biweekly Update in French.


Latin America and the Caribbean

Most articles and knowledge resources referenced in this section are in Spanish.

  • The second wave of an IDB survey of farmers in LAC found that 82 percent had to use savings, take out loans and/or sell assets to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, 12 percentage points higher than in the first round of the survey. 65 percent of households are in some state of food insecurity.
  • More than 10,000 smallholder farmers in Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Peru will soon have access to digital solutions via AGRIdigitalización, a project funded by a $2.3 million IFAD grant. The project will allow rural savings cooperatives to offer their financial services through digital platforms and help farmers sell their products online and receive virtual technical assistance and training.
  • 4.8 million Peruvians are at high risk of default on their debts in the next 12 months, says a study by Equifax Peru and Emprende UP, a center for entrepreneurship and innovation. Most are entrepreneurs working in the hardest hit sectors, including tourism and entertainment. 
  • PIX, Brazil’s instant payment system which was launched last November, is already handling a larger share of digital payments than private sector alternatives, with 71 percent of total transfers. 77 percent of Brazilians have a PIX user account and 450 million P2P transactions have been handled from November to the end of February 2021.
  • The digital platform Mercado Libre announced that it will invest $1.1 billion this year to expand its operations in Mexico, almost triple the amount invested in 2020, encouraged by a pandemic-driven boom in online shopping in the country. 
  • 52 percent of Venezuelan migrant households in Colombia are suffering from poverty in three areas: health, education and living standards, according to a survey by Project Migration Venezuela. During the pandemic, 62 percent had difficulties generating income, getting access to food or with home eviction.

For more on LAC, check out the latest Portal FinDev Biweekly Update in Spanish.


Arab World

Some articles and knowledge resources referenced in this section are in French and Arabic.

  • Sudan's decision in February to devalue its currency’s official exchange rate in line with black market rates has helped stabilize the currency, attracting about $500 million (Africa News) to the country’s formal financial system in less than four weeks.
  • Following the coronavirus pandemic, HSBC Egypt and Reefy Microfinance Enterprise Services have partnered to provide $9.5 million in long-term financing to microbusinesses in Egypt, a third of which will be dedicated to women-owned SMEs.
  • IFC is collaborating with the Egyptian Fintech Association to help fintech entrepreneurs overcome COVID-19 challenges and improve the environment for doing business. 
  • Uber announced a new partnership with its long-term partner Mastercard to boost financial inclusion in the Middle East and Africa through the use of a single infrastructure to accommodate a broad range of payment needs in the region, including Uber Rides and Uber for Business, serving a growing consumer preference for contactless payments.

For more on the Arab world and resources in Arabic, check out the latest FinDev Update in Arabic.

COVID-19 Resources

“Covid-19” image by Prachatai. Used with permission.

COVID-19 Resource Hub

A collective space for the financial inclusion community to share experiences and lessons learned from the pandemic

FinDev Guide to Data - Tracking the Global Response to COVID-19

FinDev Coronavirus Data Tracker

Data relevant for financial inclusion - find out who is tracking what

Photo by Thao Vu Xuan, 2016 CGAP Photo Contest

COVID-19 Insights for Inclusive Finance

Collection of recent CGAP blogs and publications


Blogs & Opinion

If you have a blog idea and would like to write for the FinDev Blog, please review our guidelines. We do not cross-post blogs that have been published elsewhere, but if you wish to share an existing blog post in our next FinDev COVID-19 Update, you can send it to us using our contact form


Launching India’s Microinsurance Revolution: How the Sector Can Build Upon Growing Customer Awareness Due to COVID-19

Digital Finance and Fintech

Data, Diversify, Distribute: Emerging Optimization Models

COVID-19: A Trigger to Enhance Rural Agent Networks

Fintech Innovations to Enable MSE Recovery in South Africa’s Townships

Doing Research

IPA Safely Returning to In-Person Research—A 2021 Update

Socioeconomic Impact

In Developing Countries, the COVID-19 Crisis Has Not Affected Everyone Equally

Paraguay: Women in Vulnerable Situations and Their Resilience Against COVID-19 Challenges


Recent Publications

Do you have a publication to add to this list? Share your work on FinDev Gateway. 

Building Capacity for Client-Centered Cash Assistance

Evidence Review of Women's Groups and COVID-19: Impacts, Challenges, and Policy Implications for Savings Groups in Africa

COVID-19 and Women-Led MSMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs): Senegal Country Report

Crisis and Opportunity: Reimagining Inclusive Finance After the Pandemic


View All Publications Related to COVID-19 >


Women's Groups and COVID-19: Impact, Challenges and Policy Implications

How Do We Better Support Women-Led MSMEs Post COVID-19?


View All Events and Webinars Related to COVID-19 >



Cambodia Launches $200M Guarantee Scheme to Support Businesses During Pandemic

COVID-19 Fuels 41 Percent Spike In Global Real-Time Payments


View All News Related to COVID-19 >


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