UNCDF Research Internships for UN Digital Finance Taskforce - 2019 General Call for Applications
New York, NY
Job Description

UNCDF is the UN's capital investment agency for the world's 47 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 Sustainable Development Goal # 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.

Digital Finance

UNCDF manages several initiatives related to digital financial services (DFS) to address the opportunities and challenges of implementing DFS[1] in the developing world, with a focus on the Least Developed Countries in Africa and Asia and the Pacific regions. As Secretariat to the Better than Cash Alliance, UNCDF also engages with the large emerging markets globally to foster the digitization of payments. Our aim is to build an inclusive digital economies with the digital financial ecosystem as the starting point. An inclusive digital financial ecosystem is one that offers a wide range of DFS provided responsibly, and at reasonable cost, by sustainable institutions in a well-regulated environment. UNCDF provides a mix of policy, technical financial support to a range of government and private sector actors in each country, as well as investing in research and other public goods that benefit all market actors. By supporting the development of DFS in these countries, UNCDF works to increase the financial security and participation in the economy of low income and rural households through access to appropriate, affordable and secure means to receive, manage, spend and save money.

UNCDF is also working with the greater UN system to investigate the applications of digital finance at the individual, company, sector, national and global level to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The purpose of this is to inform the UN system as well as UNCDF's new strategy to focus its financial inclusion work more toward the SDGs. This initiative is led by UN Digital Finance Taskforce, whose secretariat is housed within UNCDF.

UNCDF is looking for up to six research interns to support its core activities in researching these efforts. This will include secondary research - identifying, analysing and highlighting both industry and academic publications on the application of digital finance to SDGS. It will also include primary research by working with a group of industry leaders in finance, technology, policy and regulation, identified by UNCDF, to solicit their experiences and views. Specifically, UNCDF is seeking to answer the following questions:

  • What is the current experience in harnessing the digitalisation of finance in pursuit of the SDGs?
  • What are the high impact opportunities for digital finance in supporting the SDGs, today and in the future?
  • What are the main impediments to realising these opportunities, and how might they be overcome?
  • What are the actions needed by which actors, including the UN, to overcome impediments and realise the identified opportunities?

The internship offers a unique opportunity to engage in digital finance and to have exposure to leaders in the industry

[1] DFS refers to a range of formal financial services accessible via digital channels such as mobile money and agency banking, as opposed to traditional financial services accessed through physically visited at a bank branch.

Duties and Responsibilities

The key results expected from the Digital Finance Research Interns are:

  • Help review the contributions received from external stakeholders and prepare brief summaries of individual contributions
  • Identify and review research, publications and news related to how the digitization of finance is being applied to achieve the SDGS.
  • Develop brief summaries of both individual reports as well as help to develop information sheets that summarize key research finding on specific technologies and /or their applications to development issues. These technologies will include those core to digital finance (mobile, payments, fintech) and those which support them (big data, artificial intelligence, internet of things, distributed ledger).
  • With UNCDF staff, participate in calls with industry leaders to take notes which will help provide up to date perspectives on the current applications of digital finance to the SDGs are progressing, the key barriers and risks, as well as the opportunities going forward.
  • Be assigned to assist identified leaders to conduct and conclude their own research;
  • To the extent convenient and possible, help prepare for participate in, and help document virtual or in person convenings on the topic.
  • Assist in other organizational efforts related to the outreach to leaders.
  • Other tasks as requested.


  • Strong ability to communicate and function effectively in an international and multicultural environment;
  • Knowledge of some aspects of digital finance and technology and/or the policy and regulatory environment that guides them, including one or more of those listed above;
  • Knowledge of the development field a plus;
  • Proven research skills;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills;
  • Respect for diversity;
  • Highest standards of integrity, discretion and loyalty;
  • Commitment to UNCDF's vision, mission, and strategic goals.

Required Skills and Experience


Applicants to the UNDP/UNCDF internship programme must at the time of application meet one of the following requirements:

(a) Be enrolled in a graduate school programme (second university degree or equivalent, or higher) in Business, Finance, International Relations, Economics, Public/Business administration, Social sciences, or related discipline;

(b) Be enrolled in the final academic year of a first university degree programme (minimum Bachelor's level or equivalent) in Business, Finance, International Relations, Economics, Public/Business administration, Social sciences, or related discipline;

(c) Have graduated with a university degree (as defined in (a) and (b) above) and, if selected, must start the internship within one-year of graduation.


  • Demonstrated interest in topics related to socioeconomic development;
  • Excellent organizational, inter-personal, communication and administrative skills;
  • Able to take initiative and work independently;
  • Proven ability to manage diverse and complex tasks;
  • Excellent computer capabilities (Word, Excel, Power Point, data programmes);


  • Fluency in English is mandatory,
  • Fluency or proficiency in French, Spanish, Hindi or Mandarin Chinese will be considered a distinct advantage plus.

Note for Applicants: Please indicate clearly in your application (additional questions section) and/or your cover letter the following;

  • What is your current location?
  • Your earliest availability /Preferred start date (May 1, 2019, October 1, 2019 or April 1, 2020)
  • Whether you can undertake this internship on a full time or part time basis, if selected for the role.

Work Arrangements:

  • These research internships will be a mix of both full time or part-time placements, depending upon the organization needs and changing pace of DFTF work. Selected interns may be asked to work on either full-time or a part-time basis (at least 16 hours per week/2 days a week minimum). This will be communicated as part of the internship offer to successful candidates. Please indicate your preferences and availability clearly in the questionnaire section, as part of your internship application.
  • DFTF team members are currently located in New York, Washington, DC and Brussels, Belgium. Selected interns are expected to work closely with an assigned team-member of UNCDF, based in one of the specified locations or remotely;
  • For the interns selected for New York Placement, the expectation is the New York-based candidates will be available to work from UNCDF New York Office. The interns based out of Washington DC may be requested to join DFTF staff in Washington DC for in-person meetings from time to time. In other instances, these research internships can be undertaken from home.
  • Interns are expected to use her/his own computer/laptop, as they may not full-time access of Office computer/laptops
  • Contribution made by research interns to any organizational publications will be acknowledged and/or recognized if the publication rules allows for authorship to be mentioned.
  • Only longlisted candidates shall be invited for a technical written test (via email) and the top scoring candidates (for 4-6 internships placements) shall be invited for a phone/skype interview.

Internships Conditions:

  • UNCDF Internship programme is governed by the UNDP Internship policy framework & rules;
  • Interns are not financially remunerated by UNCDF. Costs and arrangements for travel, visas, accommodation and living expenses are the responsibility of the interns, nominating institution, related institution or government, which may provide the required financial assistance to its students; Interns themselves will have to obtain financing for subsistence and make his/her own arrangements for travel, accommodation, etc.
  • Selected Interns must be able to share proof of education enrolment and/or graduation, medical/health and life/accident insurance, valid for the location in which the internship will be carried out and be able to provide insurance documentary proof at the time of their selection;
  • The purpose of the Internship Programme is not to lead to further employment with UNCDF but to complement an intern's studies & learning growth
  • There is no expectation of employment at the end of these internships.

Application Process:

  • In your application, please state in one paragraph why you would like to be considered for the internship and your primary motivation to apply for this role.
  • Please indicate clearly in your application/cover letter the following;
  • What is your current location and preferred/desired location,
  • Your earliest availability from these date-options (May 1, 2019, October 1, 2019 or 1st April 1, 2020)
  • Whether you can undertake this internship on a full time or part time basis, if selected for the role.
  • Please submit your Resume/CV and an application using the UNCDF Internship Application form: http://www.uncdf.org/download/file/127/2509/internshipdoc
  • Applications should include the application form and latest resume. Applicants are welcome to submit any additional work samples or portfolios in one single file, preferably PDF;
  • Please note that the UNDP jobsite system allows only one uploading of application document, so please make sure that you merge all your documents (CV/Resume, cover letter etc into a single file before uploading).

UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply.

Job Type Internship