UNDP, ICMIF Foundation issue Call for Applications to insurers for innovative insurance schemes, boosting financial resilience in developing countries, especially for women

Geneva (Switzerland)/Manchester (United Kingdom) – Wednesday 8 March 2023: On International Women’s Day, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Insurance & Risk Finance Facility (IRFF) and the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) Foundation today launched the Call for Applications for the Insurance Innovation Challenge (IIC) Fund to promote innovative mutual insurance schemes to better protect the most vulnerable in developing countries, with a particular focus on women.

The IIC Fund, initially funded with USD 600,000, will enable mutual or cooperative insurance initiatives to strengthen the financial resilience of people with low income. Mutual and cooperative insurers will have to compete for technical and financial resources to develop and distribute innovative and affordable insurance products specifically serving the needs of most vulnerable households, with a particular focus on women, in developing economies.

Through the IIC Fund, UNDP and the ICMIF Foundation will help mutual and cooperative insurers scale up innovative, affordable and inclusive insurance products which specifically serve the needs of currently underserved households and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, with a particular focus on women, in developing countries.

Ulrika Modéer, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy said: “Expanding access to affordable insurance solutions specifically tailored to the needs of the poorest in developing countries is a priority to strengthen how they manage to cope through compounding crisis. When the worst happens, these communities are often the most affected and the least able to recover. Insurance is one of the key tools to avoid a downward spiral of debt and poverty.”

The provision of low-cost, inclusive insurance products can open a path to financial protection for tens of millions of women in developing countries. Inclusive insurance – specifically targeted at women – provides a valuable means of stability and potentially increased income for individuals and households, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development.

Women on low-incomes have traditionally coped with unexpected financial shocks, such as the loss of the family breadwinner, by selling possessions, taking children out of school so that they can earn money, or relying on neighbours and relatives for support. Without the protection that insurance cover brings, women often resort to diverting resources that would otherwise be invested in health, education or a new business.

Successful applicants will be awarded up to USD 100,000 over two years to support their project. Technical assistance is also available.

“ICMIF is excited about this new joint endeavor with UNDP IRFF to support the world’s poorest communities and build resilience in the face of climate, health and other shocks. Mutual and cooperative insurers work with grassroots communities to co-create risk models and build education programmes that support risk mitigation and adaption. This partnership will help scale access to affordable insurance for the people who need it most, building on the ICMIF Foundation’s 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy which has reached 15 million people over the last five years,” added Rob Wesseling, President and CEO, Co-operators (Canada) and Chair of the ICMIF Foundation.

What is the objective of the IIC?

The overarching objective of the IIC is to boost the financial resilience of underserved communities in developing economies through cooperative and mutual insurers, given their closeness to social and community organisations, and contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) notably:

  • SDG 1 on No Poverty
  • SDG 2 on Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 on Good Health & Well-being
  • SDG 5 on Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 on Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities

The immediate objective of the IIC is to scale up existing inclusive insurance programmes, particularly those with a focus on women, innovation, sustainability and which have demonstrable impact on underserved communities.

The IIC will also contribute towards the aspirations of the InsuResilience Global Partnership 2025 in particular the target of 150 million poor and vulnerable people covered by micro-level insurance.

The Insurance Innovation Challenge Fund brings together the inclusive insurance expertise and closeness to vulnerable communities of the ICMIF Foundation, which is currently serving three million households living on average with less than USD 5 per day, with UNDP’s long-term focus on building the financial resilience of communities and countries. Overseen by UNDP’s IRFF and administered by the ICMIF Foundation, the Challenge Fund will support a minimum of four organisations over 2-3 years to scale their existing microinsurance programmes to reach new customers and markets in developing countries, with plans to significantly scale up the work into the future.

The launch of the Fund and the signing ceremony took place at the sidelines of ICMIF Centenary Conference in Rome, Italy in October 2022.

Media Contacts

Lothar Mikulla, Communications Specialist, UNDP IRFF:
Alison Grant, Communications Manager, ICMIF:

Notes for Editors

About UNDP’s Insurance & Risk Finance Facility

The Insurance and Risk Finance Facility (IRFF) is part of UNDP’s Sustainable Finance Hub, and it is a flagship initiative dedicated to insurance and risk finance. The IRFF manages UNDP’s global representation in the insurance space. It is a one-stop shop for innovative solutions for UNDP Country Offices, programme countries and partners. This includes issues related to insurance and risk finance, networking, partner development, policy, and guidelines, technical and implementation, capacity and assistance, and financing opportunities. More information available at

About The ICMIF Foundation

ICMIF has been providing development support to its members in emerging markets for almost sixty years and in 2015 established a charitable organisation called The ICMIF Foundation to take the work to the next level. The ICMIF Foundation’s 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy was launched in June 2016 and currently has reached over three million low-income households in total with insurance and resilience building efforts. This equates to over 15 million lives being impacted when averaging five people per household with a current funding cost per insured household of less than one USD a day.


The International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) is the global association for 197 cooperative and mutual insurers in 60 countries across the world. As a membership organisation, the Federation’s mission is to help its member companies achieve their strategic goals and sustainably grow in their local markets.

Focusing on the key areas of mutuality, sustainability and business transformation, ICMIF’s networking and business intelligence activities leverage the knowledge, competencies and experience of its global network of member-owned and purpose-led insurance companies across 60 countries. Through its influence work, ICMIF represents the interests of global mutual/cooperative sector – accounting for approximately 26% of the global insurance market – to key stakeholders around the themes of resilience, disaster risk reduction, sustainable development and responsible investing.

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