Informal Economy Project

Project Summary

Informal economy which constitutes a diversified set of economic activities, enterprises, jobs, and workers contributes significantly to Sierra Leone economy. The informal sector plays a significant role in the country's economy, accounting for over 80% of total employment and contributing up to 40% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Despite its significant contribution, however, the sector faces several structural and institutional challenges. 


The informal economy project in Serra Leone is part of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) initiative entitled Supporting Informal Enterprises Transition Towards Sustainable Growth and Formalization in the African, Caribbean and Pacific Regions. The project is financed by the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

It is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with International Labour Organization (ILO). The objective of the project is to support the transitioning and formalization of informal enterprises into sustainable enterprises in Sierra Leone by resolving key structural and institutional bottlenecks. 

Project outcomes/pillars/components

The project has five key pillars: 

  1. Supporting the creation of enabling regulatory environment for informal enterprises. 
  2. Facilitating access to financial services through innovation challenge awards and technical assistance. 
  3. Building the capacity of intermediaries and informal enterprises. 
  4. Fostering collective and mutually reinforcing sectoral collective action platforms and innovations.
  5.  Disseminating knowledge and experience across ACP region.

Project Indicators

  • Number of new policy incentive schemes developed and implemented  - 2

  • Number of financial products & services designed and implemented targeting informal enterprises   - 12

Time frame : February 2022 - May 2026


Informal enterprises


Financial intermediaries, incubators, accelerators & research institutions


Government agencies

Structural Economic Transformation

Project Indicators

  • Number of new policy incentive schemes developed and implemented - 2

  • Number of financial products and services designed and implemented targeting informal enterprises - 12

Major Achievements to date 


APEX Bank operationalize the IT systems 

  • Developed a core module (web-based) for use by rural financial networks.

  • Developed a customer e-wallet module.

  • Developed a financial services agents’ module. 

  • Focus Group discussions held with Financial Service Associations, Community bank representatives, and selected businesses on the priorities for banking services of the proposed APEX bank digital product.

LAPO Microfinance to integrate their MIS to the MNO

  • A Market survey was conducted to inform the proposed LAPO e-wallet.

  • A draft product prototype of the LAPO E-wallet has been developed

  • Lapo has signed agreements with SMART PAY Sierra Leone Limited, Orange Money, and Africell Money to provide the platforms for the delivery of financial services to informal enterprises.

  • LAPO has conducted product pilot tests have been conducted on sampled 55 customers from Tongoh, Shelmingo, Fenton, Kabala, Tikonkoh, Moyamba, Segbwema, Allen Town, and Kenema.

  • Lapo is expecting to bring a total of 15,000 customers are expected to be on board in the next two years.