Project selection criteria

Eligible applicants are government agencies, regulatory bodies, policy makers, and —under limited circumstances— quasi-public institutions such as self-regulatory organizations and industry associations.

FIRST gives preference to projects with the following characteristics:

  • Show client ownership and are demand driven
  • Likelihood of achieving the stated project objectives, and of successful implementation
  • Show strong elements of additionality (the absence of overlap and conflict with other sources of funding)
  • Are catalytic; that is, show a capacity to lead to further financial sector strengthening
  • Short- to medium-term nature (6-18 months)

Main themes of assistance

  • Financial sector reform strategy and policy advice (in particular, financial sector development plans following FSAP*)
  • Advisory services to strengthen legal, regulatory and supervisory frameworks
  • Financial sector market and product development
  • Institution and capacity building

*Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) is a joint program of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that identifies financial system vulnerabilities and develops appropriate policy responses for participating countries.

Areas eligible for funding

Target areas include the following although some sub-sectoral exclusions apply:

  • Banking
  • Capital markets
  • Insurance
  • Payment systems
  • Pensions and collective investment schemes
  • Nonbank financial institutions
  • Housing finance
  • Crisis preparedness
  • Accounting and auditing
  • Access to finance
  • Financial sector development strategy

Areas excluded from funding

  • Technical assistance cannot be provided for the purpose of strengthening single private or public sector entities, with the exception of financial regulators
  • FIRST cannot provide "core funding", sole or primary source of funding of a start-up or an up and running organization
  • FIRST does not fund stand-alone training that is not part of a wider implementation related project
  • FIRST does not provide information technology advice, software or hardware

Project Characteristics

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 gives preference to projects with the following characteristics:

  • Likelihood of achieving the stated project objectives; of practical, tangible results; of successful implementation; of measurable impact and of replicability elsewhere.
  • Well-defined proposals of high quality, with realistic expectations.
  • Showing strong elements of additionality, rather than substitution.
  • Catalytic, likely to lead to follow-up TA work; leveraging other resources, now or later.
  • Short - to medium-term nature (6-18 months).
  • Cash or initial contributions of 10 percent from recipients.
  • No "core funding" (sole or primary source of funding of a start-up or an up- and running organization).
  • Projects that are "demand-driven" by entities from countries, regions, multilateral development banks and industry associations; rather than "supply-driven" by industrialized country consultants, Bank staff and the like.