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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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Brazilian study points to social business opportunities and challenges in education

Posted By Rebeca Rocha, Aspen Institute, Thursday, June 27, 2013

On Tuesday June 25th, ANDE members Instituto Inspirare and Potencia Ventures launched a study about the key opportunities and challenges in the education sector in Brazil for social businesses entrepreneurs. 

These organizations are seeking inputs and ideas for the next steps that each player can take to leverage social business in this sector in Brazil. 

Read the complete document here (in Portuguese).


Tags:  Brazil  education  Instituto Inspirare  Potencia  Research  social business  study 

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Pipa is selecting international businesses for the acceleration program

Posted By Rebeca Rocha, Aspen Institute, Wednesday, May 29, 2013

 

Do you have a world changing idea?

Pipa is looking for 5 ideas to invest $200,000 each. Applications close on the 31st of May!

The selected entrepreneurs will spend a season in Rio de Janeiro to participate in Pipa's accelerator program with mentorship (office hours), guest speakers, weekly sprints, networking events. More information at www.pipa.jux.com

About Pipa: Is an accelerator program that supports business ideas that create positive social and environmental impact. They are based in Rio de Janeiro and supported by partners such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, TechStars, Endeavor, the Unreasonable Institute, among others.


Tags:  accelerators  Brazil  Pipa  program 

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IFC LA & Caribbean Conference - Presentations available

Posted By Rebeca Rocha, Aspen Institute, Wednesday, May 8, 2013

In April, the IFC held a conference to discuss SMEs in banking: " The IFC Latin America & Caribbean SME Banking Conference" in São Paulo, Brazil. Professionals from various countries participated in discussions on how to support the SMEs development in the region.

Check some of the presentations here (click on the presentations tab).

Tags:  banking  Brazil  Caribbean  IFC  Latin America  presentation  Sao Paulo 

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"Are you building a product or a social business?"

Posted By Rebeca Rocha, Aspen Institute, Wednesday, April 3, 2013
One of our ANDE members, Artemisia - a brazilian organization focused in build the social business sector through capacity development and acceleration program - represented by one of its directors, Renato Kiyama, brings this question in his conversation with the Hubzine: "Are you building a product or a social business?". He also points some key obstacles that social start ups struggle with and gives his opinion about innovation and scaling in social business. For the folks interested in Brazil and/or in social businesses, it's an interesting interview to read (check it out the full text here). 

Tags:  ANDE Members  artemisia  Brazil  hubzine  renato kiyama  Social entrepreneurship 

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ANDE and some members are in the upcoming documentary "Between Worlds"

Posted By Rebeca Rocha, Aspen Institute, Wednesday, December 19, 2012
http://vimeo.com/54093476

 

 
ANDE and some of our members are among the organizations interviewed for the documentary Between Worlds (Entre Mundos) that analyzes entrepreneurship for the base of the pyramid, This documentary presents examples of three women in Brazil, Mexico and India and how social business models impacted their life. The movie, a brazilian production, will be officially launched in mid 2013. 

Check the movie trailer here: http://vimeo.com/54093476

Check the website here: http://www.entremundos.tv/

Check an article about the movie in the news portal Folha de S. Paulo here (in Portuguese): http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/empreendedorsocial/1202821-documentario-foca-no-setor-25-e-conta-com-crowdfunding-para-finalizacao.shtml

Tags:  between worlds  brazil  documentary 

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