Postal partnerships, a key to stronger communities

Cross-sector partnerships in the postal network help deliver inclusive financial services that strengthen communities and Posts themselves.

“UPU believes in the values that strategic partnerships deliver to the UPU network on knowledge sharing, digital expertise, enhanced operating models, access to funding and sharing of best practices,” said Sergey Dukelskiy, the UPU’s Coordinator of Sustainability and Financial Services.

The UPU podcast, Voice Mail, featured one such partnership with guest Pedro de Vasconcelos, Manager of the Financing Facility for Remittances at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
In the past, IFAD and UPU piloted a programme in several countries in Africa to demonstrate how Posts can reduce the cost and time of remittances, as well as broaden the reach and expand the range of financial services provided by Posts in rural areas.
“The very first thing that can destroy the need to have remittances is linking them with financial services, because when you have those options, you might not need remittances in the future,” de Vasconcelos said on the podcast.
“Through various joint initiatives, partnerships and work on the ground together with Posts, particularly representing smaller and less developed countries, UPU helps to boost their revenues, satisfy the needs of their customers and foster financial inclusion locally and on the global scale,” Dukelskiy explained.
The UPU also established the Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility (FITAF) Programme in partnership with Visa and the Gates Foundation, which is helping 20 designated operators in their launch of new or improved digital financial services (DFS) and products.
“Collaboration among post offices, governments, and the private sector is a key tool of economic inclusion. When examining how to curate global solutions around innovation, scale and impact, postal partnerships are an opportunity to close the gaps in inclusion, allowing everyone to participate in digital platforms and the economy,” Visa wrote on the UPU blog, Postal Matters.
“The partnership with VISA and the Gates Foundation has been instrumental in providing the required extra-budgetary funding to support DFS projects in various markets, to leverage digital and strategic access expertise that can drive financial inclusion in line with the UN SDG goals,” Dukelskiy said.
The UPU has also partnered with the Government of Japan and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications through the Japan Fund. This partnership provides the UPU with funds to support member Posts in the digitization of inclusive postal financial services that serve marginalized groups.
The UPU is also a founding member of the UNCTAD-led initiative, “eTrade for all,” said Alexander Thern-Svanberg, Manager of the Resource Mobilization and Stakeholder Engagement Programme.
The programme’s goal is to improve the ability of developing countries, particularly least developed countries, to use and benefit from e-commerce.
UNCTAD-recruited consultants interview both public and private sector stakeholders, including Posts, in their respective countries to develop assessment reports. The UPU and other eTrade partners comment on these reports, which are then finalized and published on the UNCTAD website.
“These demand-driven assessments provide a basic analysis of the current e-commerce situation in the countries concerned, and identify opportunities and barriers,” Thern-Svanberg said. “They provide an assessment of critical readiness gaps in seven policy areas: e-commerce strategies, ICT infrastructure, payment solutions, legal framework, trade facilitation/logistics, skills and financing SMEs, and address those through collaborative public and private partnerships.”
UNCTAD eTrade for Women Advocate for Latin America, Pierangela Sierra, is the CEO and Co-Founder of a fast-growing Ecuadorian startup, Tipti, an online supermarket. She spoke with the UPU’s podcast host, Ian Kerr, about the challenges of overcoming the digital divide and building an e-commerce career as a woman.
“Many of the challenges is how to be really respected in this kind of environment, how to have visibility, and how to really be part of these companies and have an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the same competencies,” Sierra said of bridging the gender gap.
To hear more about the longstanding UPU-UNCTAD collaboration on facilitating eTrade for All as well as about the role of the Post and its partners in stimulating digital transformation across supply chains and bridging the digital divide within and across countries, tune in for the next episode of Voice Mail with Shamika Sirimanne, Director of the Division on Technology and Logistics at UNCTAD – online next week on Voice Mail.