FIRST’s technical assistance (TA) supports the broader development agenda of a country, including to promote inclusive growth and help alleviate poverty, and to promote greater financial stability.

FIRST operates through two "windows":

  • Catalytic: FIRST funds small-scale projects (with average size of $250,000), implemented over 6 to 24 months, to tackle targeted, short-term needs, and based on country demand.
  • Programmatic: FIRST funds larger programmatic technical assistance engagements aiming at long-term targets for longer-term reforms in effective prudential supervision in banking and insurance, financial inclusion and market development. Programs will average in size of $2 million, with an average implementation period of 3 years. These programs will provide funding across multiple projects connected through a well-structured typically, multi-year reform program.

Areas eligible for funding

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

  • Banking
  • Capital markets
  • Insurance
  • Pensions
  • Leasing and Factoring
  • Financial and Information Infrastructures (Accounting & Auditing, Collateral Registries, Credit Reporting, Payment, Settlement and Remittance Systems)
  • Housing finance
  • Business Conduct (Corporate Governance, Consumer Protection)
  • Macroprudential (Financial Stability Framework, Liquidity Management, Monetary & Exchange Rate Policies, Systemic Assessment Framework, Crisis Preparedness, Bank Resolution, Deposit Insurance)
  • Financial Sector Development Strategy
  • Microfinance

Eligible Beneficiaries

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

Project Characteristics

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 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

How to apply

FIRST encourages country authorities to apply for funding through FIRST web-site

As a first step, an applicant sends to FIRST an inquiry with a brief project description. FIRST reviews the inquiry to determine whether the proposal is generally eligible for funding. If deemed eligible, FIRST assists the recipient to develop and submit a project proposal.


The inquiry forms are available for downloading:

The proposal forms are available for downloading: