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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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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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Village Capital - October 2013 Update

Posted By Lily Bowles, Village Capital, Saturday, October 26, 2013

 

Village Capital has made four new investments over the past month, is launching three new programs (in India, Kenya, and the Netherlands), and has secured support to expand the Frontier Market Scouts program. Read below for the details:

1.Village Capital has made four new investments after the close of our most recent programs in India and the US.

  • The "Tech for Impact” program in Ahmedabad,India, in partnership with CIIE at IIM-Ahmedabad, participating entrepreneurs selected iKure, which enables better last-mile health treatment through wireless monitoring devices, and Edsix, which provides quality education for the poor through an adaptive learning technology. Learn more about both enterprises in this recent Times of India article.
  • This summer’s program in Louisville, KY,marked the first formal pilot of our”Problem-Based Approach.”Instead of developing programs around industries or geographies, the VilCap team has found it most effective to organize programs around the actual problems enterprises are solving–in Louisville, we focused on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the agricultural supply chain. One outcome: the two peer-selected companies–Spensa Technologies, which cuts farmers’ pesticide usage through smart insect monitoring, and Solar Site Design, which makes it easy and inexpensive for any home or real estate owner to design and implement a solar project–are building great businesses generating real impact, even though they don’t self-label as "impact” enterprises. These companies were highlighted in a fun Forbes article:"Surprise! You’re a Social Entrepreneur.”

2.New programs launching inIndia, Kenya, and the Netherlands this fall–and you’re invited to come meet the enterprises (dates and locations below).

  • "Edupreneurs,”a program Village Capital is operating in partnership with the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, features 15 top ventures providing affordable BoP education solutions in India. Learn more about the program here; join usSaturday, October 26th in Delhi for our Customer Forum; or save the date for ourVenture Forum: November 23rdin Bangalore.
  • Village Capital-Netherlands, in partnership with Impact Hub-Amsterdam and DOEN Foundation, kicks off next week. Join Executive Director, Ross Baird, to learn more about the program and Frontier Market Scouts-Netherlands (DeBaak Institute), hosted atImpact Hub on October 31st.

3.Do you know anyone eager to get build a career in impact investing? We’re excited to announce that, with the support of Shell and the Hitachi Foundation, we’re expanding the Frontier Market Scouts program.

The Frontier Market Scouts program, which Village Capital co-founded with the Monterey Institute for International Studies and Sanghata Global, has been a leading entry point for professionals into the impact investing sector. Over the past three years, impact investors such as Invested Development, Unitus Seed Fund, and Accion, as well as enterprises in our portfolio and elsewhere have provided an on-ramp for aspiring professionals.

Thanks to Shell and the Hitachi Foundation, Village Capital has been able to expand the Frontier Market Scouts program globally. Starting with this January’s training, there will be three campuses (with more to come):

  • The Monterey Institute for International Studies
  • The Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing(University of Utah)
  • De Baak Institute(Netherlands)

If you know someone interested in a career in impact investing, please encourage them to apply to the Scouts program by October 15th–link here.

That’s all for now – we hope to see you at one of our programs or events over the coming months, ANDE members and friends!

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Tags:  accelerators  ANDE Members  early stage ecosystem  emerging markets  Entrepreneurship  High-Growth Entrepreneurship  impact investing  mentoring  Mexico  SGBs; Environment; accelerators; energy  social business 

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The Rise of Mexico

Posted By Katia Dumont, Aspen Institute, Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The last couple of months Mexico has received quite a lot of spotlight from the press; "How Mexico got back in the game” by Thomas Friedman, "Mexico: the new China” by Chris Anderson in the New York Times, "Mexico: Aztec Tiger” in The Financial Times.  The world is looking forward to a booming Mexican economy, which doubled from 2010 to 2012 from 2% to 4% growth – while its Latin American brother, Brazil is growing at a 0.9%.  Nonetheless, there are still many barriers that stagnates the long term growth of this economy, one of these being, as Tim Padgett well describes:  "Boom Brazil won global kudos in large part because it started tackling many of the core development challenges that Mexico keeps avoiding, such as steering credit and capital not to monopolies but to small- and medium-sized businesses that employ most of the workforce.” 

From the regional ANDE chapter, the credit/ capital and expertise development of small and growing businesses is something that all of our members are fostering and striving for,  to achieve a long term support to the growth of Mexico.   


Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/03/08/mexicos-new-boom-why-the-world-should-tone-down-the-hype/#ixzz2MzgEpGIa

Tags:  GB  Mexico  olicy 

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Database of Mexican Philanthropy launched

Posted By Stella Hanly, Aspen Institute, Friday, February 1, 2013

Database of Mexican Philanthropy launched - The Foundation Center

The Foundation Center has announced the creation of a free searchable database of more than twenty-two thousand Mexican philanthropies. The first platform developed by the New York City-based center to use non-U.S. data sets, Fondos a la Vista is modeled after the Foundation Directory Online and was created in partnership with Alternativas y Capacidades and the Philanthropy and Civil Society Project at the Instituto Tecnológico Aut�nomo de M�xico to provide the Mexican public with reliable, comprehensive information about domestic funders and their philanthropic activity, including the organizations they support. The project has received support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Microsoft, the U.S.-Mexico Foundation, Fundación Alfredo Harp Helú, Fundación del Empresariado en México, Fundación Rosario Campos de Fernández, and Montepío Luz Savinó.  Read the full press release here.

Tags:  Mexico  Philanthropy 

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