Financial Sector Reform and Strengthening Initiative (FIRST Initiative)
The Financial Sector Reform and Strengthening (FIRST) Initiative is a multi-donor grant facility providing technical assistance (TA) to promote financial sector strengthening. FIRST's mission is to support growth and poverty reduction in low- and middle-income countries through the promotion of robust and diverse financial sectors.
FIRST was launched in 2002 by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Department for International Development for the United Kingdom (DFID), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs of Switzerland (SECO), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), and the World Bank.
The World Bank manages the FIRST Initiative on behalf of the donors. FIRST has been recently extended to 2012 with funding of $100 million in total, based on its success in the first four years of its operations.
FIRST's focus is short-term and medium-term projects. Technical assistance projects range in size from a few thousand dollars up to US$500,000 and, exceptionally, more. The majority of projects supported to date have been between US$100,000 and US$200,000.
FIRST’S SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
i) Fund technical assistance in the areas of financial sector regulation, supervision and development in response to country demands, provide support to countries to strengthen their financial systems or implement standards and codes in advance of Financial Sector Assessment Programs.
ii) Assist recipients in preparing prioritized action plans addressing financial sector development and the sequencing of reforms
iii) Promote coordination in the delivery of financial sector technical assistance and capacity building, drawing particularly on private sector expertise.
iv) Support research on and the dissemination of best practices and useful tools related to financial sector reform and development in low- and middle-income countries.
v) Work with international standard-setting bodies and other relevant partners to broaden the base of providers supporting countries’ efforts to implement standards and codes in accordance with FSAP and ROSC recommendations and strengthen their financial systems.
FIRST technical assistance grants are targeted for short and medium-term projects mainly in:
Access to Finance
Accounting and Auditing
Financial Sector Diversification
Pensions and Collective Investment Schemes
Market Integrity and Financial Crime (Anti-Money Laundering)
Financial Sector Legal, Regulatory and Supervisory Frameworks
Financial System Reform, Policy and Strategy
FIRST provides technical assistance grants to eligible institutions in countries that qualify for World Bank loans and IDA credits.
Below are eligible regions where FIRST can or already has provided technical assistance:
East Asia & Pacific
Europe & Central Asia
Latin America & Caribbean
Middle East & North Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa See more