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Three Powerful Tools for Fintech Practitioners

Posted By Jane Del Ser, Bankable Frontier Associates, Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By David del Ser

(Watch our video)

Since we launched the Catalyst Fund in 2015, we have helped 15 fintech entrepreneurs deploy novel approaches to bring products and services to their customers. We have distilled the successful patterns and behaviors we have observed into toolkits and posts for those considering fintech methods for their businesses, whether they be startups or established players.


At a high level, successful fintech startups adopt principles of Design, Risk Management and Product Management, and also put modern technologies like smartphones, artificial intelligence and cloud computing at the core of their value propositions. At successful fintech startups Designers, Product Managers, CEOs and Engineers reinforce each other in multidisciplinary teams to explore the overlap between what customers find desirable, what engineers can build, and what the business requires to grow.

Design

The function of Design is to represent the voice of the customer at all times to make sure a company stays centered on what matters most. Design is not a one-off process. In the spirit of customer validation, designers keep tight feedback loops with customers throughout the product development process, from early prototypes to usability testing of new features.


Through user research (UX) techniques like online surveys and one-one-one interviews, designers invest heavily during initial stages in order to know their customers like the back of their hand; what are their problems and pain points, and how can their company help? In fact, designers segment customers into personas to allow the team to constantly keep in mind different user profiles and needs.


Aesthetics matter. Designers work hard to perfect a product’s UI and its look and feel, so it can live up to the high expectations created by WhatsApp or Google. But great design goes beyond just user research and visuals during early product design stages. Successful inclusive fintech startups map out the Customer Journey and Service Blueprint in detail to fully understand the perspective of the user each time they  interact with the company.


Ultimately, great design creates trust, that elusive quality that all startups are chasing and that distinguishes them from their competitors. We’ve captured our lessons for startups to build trust with their customers through their products or services in our Design for Trust Toolkit.


Product Management

But designers can’t work in isolation; they need someone to lead the orchestra - and that’s where a product manager comes in. The PM takes a big picture view and works to ensure that designers, engineers and marketers all work towards the same goal. Crucially, she makes sure the product or service goal is backed by data and evidence. She keeps the whole process nimble through quick agile iterations focused on the activities of users, from initial onboarding to the retention phase. For example, using A/B Testing and usage analytics she captures details of how each users is interacting with every screen to inform engagement.


The effective product manager is very focused on the key metrics for the business, such as customer lifetime value or acquisition costs. She also works hard to explore the best channels to find new customers, including viral referrals and social media. As an example, our portfolio company Destacame has seen lead acquisition costs dropping to less than $3 through these types of digital channels. We explore some of the different tools and frameworks to help startups focus as they chart their journey from idea, to minimum viable product (MVP) and growth in our upcoming product/market fit toolkit.

Modern Technologies

And finally, you can’t have good fintech without the “tech” that is enabling these new approaches.


Most important are the smartphones, which run fintech apps and also act as channels to find and interact with users. For instance, several of our startups use WhatsApp to offer customer support and drive virality, communicating with users in the way they prefer. Smartphones can also be used to generate and capture user data, which is particularly valuable when targeting low-income consumers who traditionally have been anonymous. In that vein, our portfolio company Smile Identity validates and authenticates customer identities using selfies taken on their phones.


In addition machine learning and other artificial intelligence systems can improve customer value propositions and to automate internal processes like credit scoring using data from smartphones and other new sources like satellites. As an example, our portfolio company ToGarantido is exploring chatbots for sales of their insurance policies and customer support. Harvesting is using satellite data to understand credit and insurance risk with just a GPS read. Worldcover doesn’t even need customers to file a claim as their satellite systems award them automatically.


And software engineering helped Escala and Paygo Energy to automate most of their back-office processes to be responsive to their customers. It is easier and more affordable than ever for startups to leverage affordable SaaS solutions to architect their systems. Likewise, cloud computing is also a powerful technology that offers simplicity, lower costs and flexibility. There is no need to commit capital to purchase hardware and the team requires less engineering talent to keep the servers going.

Conclusion

In our experience, companies that harness the powerful combination of design, product management and modern technologies create better and more tailored value propositions. That makes for happier customers, which is what makes businesses thrive. By driving more usage, the fintech triad can create more impact in low-income populations. And digital channels and automated processes can significantly lower costs of serving customers, allowing for expansion to new markets and reducing exclusion.


Learn more by joining us for our webinar on the Catalyst Fund toolkits during the ANDE Sector Update call in January. Register here.


Tags:  Acceleration  accelerator  accelerators  Africa  ANDE Africa  Base of the Pyramid  brazil  Business Models  capacity development  early stage ecosystem  emerging markets  entrepreneurship  finance  financial inclusion  fintech  Grants Rockefeller  impact investing  impact investment  inclusive innovation  India  India; ANDE members  innovation  Kenya  Latin America  mentoring  Mexico  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  smaholder farmers  smes  social enterprise  social entrepreneurship  social innovation  webinar  West Africa 

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AXiiS is closing the gap with 6 billion (USD) in assets under management ready for SMEs to access finance Today!

Posted By FAST International, Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade, Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 13, 2017
https://youtu.be/I4QvUzUwkxQ

About AXiiS:

Unique in its industry, Access and eXchange impact investment for Sustainability (AXiiS), is populated with local Financial Advisors based on their grounded work in the field with agriculture and forestry SMEs in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, ensuring sustainable investment ready cases.

Selected SMEs are profiled based on criteria ensuring their investment-readiness, while collecting relevant data on investment in agriculture and forestry sectors. It showcases blind profiles of SMEs and Financial Service Providers to ensure security and to enhance the matchmaking process.

To join or find out more, visit: www.axiis.ca

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Tags:  A Access to Finance  apps4africa  asset finance  banking  capacity development  climate resilience  emerging markets  Environment  environmental impact  finance  Global. Development  India; ANDE members  Investors  Latin America  news  nicaragua  Performance Measurement  Rwanda  Scale  SDGs  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  SGBs; Environment; accelerators; energy  smaholder farmers  small and growing agrobusiness  smallholder farmers  smes  social impact  supply chain  sustainability  sustainable development  Tanzania  Uganda 

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​Agora Partnerships Launches Application for 2017 Accelerator Cycle 2 Class

Posted By Elysa Neumann, Agora Partnerships, Thursday, March 9, 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKRdMGQbY_Q&feature=youtu.be

 
Agora Partnerships has launched applications for its 2017 Accelerator program.
 
Through its flagship Accelerator program, Agora Partnerships strives to accelerate the shift to a sustainable economy by providing entrepreneurs who are intentionally building businesses that solve social and environmental challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean with the resources they need to grow. Since 2011, 125 companies working in 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have participated in the Agora Accelerator, raising USD $52MM in capital and creating over 5,000 jobs. This year, in solidarity with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Agora Partnerships is aligning our Accelerator tracks to advance the SDGs.
 
The Accelerator is a 4-month program designed to provide high-potential entrepreneurs with the knowledge, network and access to capital necessary to create system change, through in-depth, personalized, 1:1 consulting; access to the Agora Partnerships’network of mentors, investors, and capital opportunities; and a global community of peers.
 
Agora’s Accelerator program is designed for companies who are solving social and environmental challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean, matching the following criteria: 
 
  • early or growth stage, past proof-of-concept; 
  • currently looking for investment to scale; 
  • legally incorporated as a for-profit structure with basic accounting systems in place; 
  • average annual income of USD $50K to $2MM; and, 
  • with a clear, measurable and sustainable impact.
 
Agora Partnerships looks to work with entrepreneurs who embody the leadership qualities of agency, empathy, curiosity and perseverance.
 
To apply to Agora Partnerships’ 2017 Accelerator click here.
 
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Agora Partnerships is a network committed to leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs by finding innovative ways to drive more human, social, and financial capital to the leaders and ideas that will make our world a better place. To learn morevisit: AgoraPartnerships.org

Tags:  Acceleration  accelerators  Agriculture  Business  Caribbean  central america  energy  Entrepreneurship  Environment  impact  impact investing  impact investment  innovation  Latin America  nicaragua  SGBs; Environment; accelerators; energy  small and growing agrobusiness  social ent  social enterprise  social entrepreneurship  social impact  sustainability  talent  Women 

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Career Accelerator: Social Innovation Management Fellowship - Call for Applications

Posted By Geraldine Hepp, Amani Institute, Monday, December 14, 2015
Updated: Monday, December 14, 2015

Change someone's life - share this opportunity for aspiring changemakers to join a global Fellowship and take their career to the next level! 

We have received some of our best applicants thanks to people like you, and we would love to see the power of our community once again - so we can find the changemakers who are looking to build the professional skills and global networks needed to lead change effectively.

You can learn more about our Post-Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation Management and its changed structure here
Amani Institute Graduates now have an exciting opportunity through our partnership with Lynn University, where our program counts 25% towards a new MBA in Social Innovation Management that can be completed both on campus or online.

The most effective way to share this is via direct 
recommendation and shouldn't take longer than 3 minutes of your time but could mean a life-changing opportunity for someone in your network.

Fellows who have benefitted most from this program have been:

  • Career-switchers
  • Recent Graduates
  • Social change sector professionals 

committed to taking their work to the next level. Selection criteria:

  • A University degree (undergrad or masters)
  • At least two years of practical experience (either working or volunteering)
  • Evidence of commitment to social change through your personal and/or professional life
  • Strong desire to develop yourself further both professionally and personally
  • Interest in gaining a further global perspective to your previous experiences

Find a sample text, an infographic and a video for you to pass on below but also feel free to directly nominate and connect us via Email, allowing for a no-strings attached conversation with someone you nominate as a potential Social Innovation Management Fellow

_____________________________________________________________________
Feel free to use the below infographic about the different phases of the program and the following sample text for easy sharing:

Dear [Name],

Considering your passion for meaningful work, I highly recommend Amani Institute'scutting-edge 10 month Post-Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation Management: 4 months field immersion in Kenya or Brazil, 10 professional skill-building courses taught by global experts, a customized apprenticeship, 3 inspiring field trips, 20+ like-minded classmates from around the world, and much more. 

In 10 months, expand your professional network, get global experience in how to tackle some of the toughest challenges, and learn how to change the world! Apply now: bit.ly/amani2016

Learn more about Amani Institute's partnership with Lynn University if you are interested in an MBA in Social Innovation Management herebit.ly/SocInnMBA

Application Deadline: January 11th, 2016
Program start: February 1st, 2016

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Tags:  Base of the Pyramid  business training  capacity development  career in social changeSocial Entrepreneurship  CSR  diaspora  East Africa  education  emerging markets  fellowship  impact evaluation  innovation  Latin America  social entrepreneurship  social innovation  talent 

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Connect talents with social ventures

Posted By Tom Kagerer, LGT Impact, Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dear ANDE members,

I am reaching out to ask for your kind support to spread the word widely.

Last week, LGT Venture Philanthropy opened applications for the ICats Fellowship Program 2016. In this program, we seek professionals with minimum 2 years of work experience who are keen to work on-site with award winning social entrepreneurs (e.g. Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship) from our global portfolio, for 11-months starting January 2016.

Application deadline is 31st of August 2015.

I have attached a factsheet which you could forward to your network. Or spread the word through your social media channels using the following snippets:

Twitter: Professionals eager to create social impact?Apply now to @LGTVP ICats bit.ly/1MzCmnT and work with award winning #socent #fellowship

Facebook/LinkedIn: For professionals who are eager to create social impact - call for applications for the LGT Venture Philanthropy ICats Fellowship 2016. ICats have the opportunity to work with LGT VP and its award winning portfolio organizations (www.skollfoundation.org/skoll-foundation-announces-2015-skoll-awards-for-social-entrepreneurship). #socent Apply now: lgtvp.com/fellowship

Your support is highly appreciated.

Tom

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Tags:  capacity development  China  East Africa  fellowship  Human Capital  India  Latin America  Social Entrepreneurship  South Africa  Southeast Asia  talent 

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USAID competition now rolling to support innovations any day of the year, any sector, any country.

Posted By Kristen Gendron, U.S. Agency for International Development, Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), USAID’s open innovation fund, now accepts applications for innovative development solutions on a rolling basis, any day of the year. We are currently entering our fall application cycle, and looking for your help directing the best innovators to our competition.

Help us spread the word and apply today! Winners receive $150,000 to $15M depending on stage, plus nonfinancial assistance through a swat team of DIV portfolio advisers to support their organization’s growth. Proposals can be in any sector and any country in which USAID can operate.

To learn more, share with your networks, or to apply, see fast facts and tweets below, and visit DIV's website for more information.

About DIV


Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) is an innovation fund within USAID that sources, tests, and supports the growth of proven, cost-effective interventions.  Using a venture-capital approach, DIV directly invests USAID dollars through its global platform in solutions that demonstrate impact and have the potential to achieve sustainable scale.  

 

Applying to DIV: 5 things you need to know


  1. DIV invests across 3 stages of growth with grant funding ranging from under 150K to 15 million. Applicants select a stage based on how much evidence, if any, they have previously gathered of their solution’s success.

  2. DIV looks for solutions based on three pillars: 1) cost-effectiveness relative to alternative solutions; 2) evidence or plans to gather evidence of the solution’s impacts; and 3) the applicant’s plans to sustainably scale the solution beyond DIV if it is proven successful.

  3. DIV is about open innovation. That means the competition accepts applications every day of the year. Solutions can be in any sector and any country in which USAID operates. And proposals can come from any type of organization anywhere in the world.

  4. DIV uses a two-step application process. The first step is a 5 page business plan, or letter of interest, that is intended to be a light lift for both the applicants and the reviewers to assess whether the organizations are a potential fit. If you are invited to the next stage, DIV asks applicants to submit a more in-depth proposal that is evaluated by a panel of experts for final selection.

  5. DIV’s guiding document provides more thorough information on how to apply, what we look for, and what applicants can expect in our process. Use the APS in assessing your fit with DIV and in filling out your application!


Spreading the word on social media:

  • Looking for seed financing or scaling support? @DIVatUSAID winners receive up to $15M. Apply today http://goo.gl/lv6WvV
  • Help spread the word about @DIVatUSAID to innovators in #GlobalDev around the world! Apply now! http://goo.gl/lv6WvV
  • #Innovation competition @USAID looks for bold #globaldev ideas from anyone, anywhere. Apply to @DIVatUSAID now. http://goo.gl/lv6WvV
  • Awesome competition to apply to: @DIVatUSAIDlooking for innovative development solutions. Apply today http://goo.gl/lv6WvV #SocEnt
  • .@DIVatUSAID is looking to fund the next big idea in #GlobalDev. Apply now! http://goo.gl/lv6WvV

Learn more:

Visit us online here.


Tags:  Access to Finance  Asia  Business  Business Models  early stage ecosystem  emerging markets  Entrepreneurship  finance  Grants  impact investing  impact investment  Latin America  Philanthropy; impact investing  Scale  social enterprise  Social Entrepreneurship 

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Working methods of Impact Investing Funds in Latin America

Posted By Julian Vargas, Fundacion IES, Friday, August 29, 2014
Updated: Friday, August 29, 2014

This document is a systematization, done by IES Foundation with the support of New Ventures Mexico, which analyses the way ten impact investing funds in Latin-America work. The document discusses the way the funds performs their duties, the problems they face and the solutions they find. The document does not intended to find “the correct” way of doing things but rather focuses on showing the way different funds in the region deal with the challenges related to impact investing, therefore it describes rather than prescribes. The research is based on 10 questionnaires, filled by 10 impact investing funds, and a workshop that was carried out in 2014th Impact Investing Latin-American Forum (FLII). You can download the report (in spanish) here. For questions of more information please contact Julian Vargas Talavera (jvargas@fundacionies.org)   

Tags:  ANDE Members  impact investing  Latin America  Sector Trends 

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USAID's Open Innovation Competition: Upcoming Deadline 4/15/2014

Posted By Kristen Gendron, U.S. Agency for International Development, Tuesday, March 18, 2014
USAID's Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program seeks innovative development solutions in any sector and country, and from nearly any organization in the world. The next competition round closes April 15, 2014. Apply today!

More about DIV

DIV at USAID is an open competition supporting breakthrough solutions to the world's most intractable development challenges—interventions that could change millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost. DIV is interested in innovations that are expected to lead to transformative (as opposed to incremental) improvements that could ultimately scale across multiple developing countries and, ideally, multiple sectors in these countries.

More about how to apply

Virtually any organization is eligible to apply with a solution for a development challenge in any sector or country in which USAID operates. Interested applicants must submit a five-page business plan, or Letter of Interest, to the DIV competition outlining their innovation and its potential to be more cost-effective, evidence-based, and scalable than traditional approaches. The DIV competition is open quarterly, with the next round closing December 16 at 11:59 EST.

More information on how to apply can be found online: www.usaid.gov/div/apply.

Tags:  Africa  Asia  Entrepreneurship  impact investing  Latin America  Social entrepreneurship 

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Vital Voices 2014-2015 GROW Fellowship

Posted By Emilie Romero, Vital Voices Global Partnership, Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dear ANDE Community,

Vital Voices is excited to announce that it is now accepting applicants for the 2014-2015 VV GROW Fellowship Program.

VV GROW Fellowship Program Overview 

Vital Voices has launched the VV GROW Fellowship Program, a one-year competitive program to support growth-oriented women business owners to take their businesses and leadership to the next level. The program supports women-owned enterprises in, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa to set and achieve business growth goals with a unique blend of online learning, in-person training, and tailored support services.  

 The one-year program timeline consists of 4 components:

  1. A  competitive participant selection process and business needs assessment
  2. Online preparatory sessions with Harvard Manage Mentor and Vital Voices advisors before the training, that guide fellows in drafting a business plan that they will refine throughout the training
  3. An in-person regional training
  4. An opportunity to access follow-on services such as technical advising, webinars featuring technical experts, business to business opportunities, mentors, and small grants

Who Can Apply?

Vital Voices is seeking applications from women business owners from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, who:  

  • Own a businesses that has been in operation for at least 3 years,
  • Employ at least 3 staff (including temporary and/or seasonal workers), and        
  • Generate at least USD $40,000 in annual sales.

As an interested applicant, you:

  • Are motivated to build the skills and make the changes needed to grow your business,
  • Are excited to participate in a one year program including on-line and in-person training and access to business growth opportunities, and
  • Recognize the value of and participate in the tracking of the growth of your business for up to 3 years through methods such as surveys, calls, or additional opportunities. 

How Can Applicants Apply?

More information on how to APPLY can be found online at: http://bit.ly/1ffl7UQ. 

 When are Applications Due?

  • Applications for candidates located in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean are due March 2, 2014.
  • For candidates applying from the Middle East and North Africa, application deadlines are March 15, 2014.

Please share this with promising candidates who meet the requirements and are located in the regions mentioned.

Thank you!

Tags:  ANDE Members  Brazil  Business  business training  East Africa  Entrepreneurship  fellowship  Latin America  leadership  MENA  mentoring  Mexico  SMEs  West Africa  Women 

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MIF & Dalberg on how Venture Capital has driven development in Latin America

Posted By Katia Dumont, Aspen Institute, Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This week, the Multilateral Investment Fund and Dalberg published "Venture Capital: Driving development in Latin America. " The study is a reflexion on the impact that the MIF VC funding has catalyzed in the Latin American  economies.  As Dalberg reports on its blog, reffering to this study "Nonetheless, our findings suggest that VC can serve as an important tool for furthering inclusive economic development, particularly if, as has been the case in other regions, these select few mature into pioneering companies with the potential to spur enormous innovation and growth." This  study is another support on how the SGB case is critical to emerging markets economies. 

 

For more information:

Dalberg blog:http://dalberg.com/blog/?p=2146

 MIF publication: http://services.iadb.org/mifdoc/website/publications/8ee563cc-285c-45a6-bd3c-0c58b438cfba.pdf

Tags:  ANDE Members  Capital Aggregation  Latin America 

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