Digital Transformation of Microfinance Institutions Training Program

Module 1: COVID and the Drive Toward Digital Transformation

This module distils the lessons learned throughout the COVID Pandemic by the 20 authors who submitted short articles on their experiences. These articles were submitted by leading organizations, including BRAC Bangladesh, CARD Bank, Grooming Center, Fondo Esperanza, and by number of other authors reflecting on a the experiences of MFIs with whom they have worked quite closely. This module lays out the critical issues we will be focusing on for the duration of the program.

Faculty: Robert Christen


Module 2: Strategic and Business Planning for Transformational Change

Digital transformation is a challenging and necessary journey for every financial institution. Establishing a unified view of the direction to go, the major steps to be taken, and the impact initiatives have on key business drivers can improve the process and the outcome.

This course introduces three practical tools that MFIs can use to assess the scope, impact, and priority of their digital transformation initiatives: Business Model Canvas, Digital Foundation, and Digital Initiative Scorecard. The course concludes with a case study of a bank undergoing digital transformation.

Faculty: Glen Tugman and Jeremy Pallant


Module 3: Rethinking Financial Products for the Digital Age

This course will provide you with an overview of the processes involved in product development and implementation from the institutional introspection that necessarily precedes it, through the market research and prototype design up to the pilot testing to the roll out and operational integration. The course is applicable to the financial institutions and other stakeholders that may want to focus on traditional as well as digital financial services.

In this course, you will learn about the strategic and operational design to deliver customer-centric financial services for low- and moderate-income markets. In addition, you will learn about the ways how financial institutions may utilize digital technologies to foray or enhance their share in the mass market. Also, you will understand how the emerging alternative technology-based models for low- and moderate-income finance work and the ways you can incorporate the models to your business. We have designed this course incorporating the best practices of mass market finance from around the world that are relevant to your business.

The tools introduced by the facilitator for the course have been developed over a decade of practical work in South and South East Asia, and East Africa and are now being used all over the world to develop and implement scalable digital and traditional financial services.

Faculty: Anup Singh


Module 4: Building Partnerships and a Digital Financial Ecosystem for Your Clients

The rapid development of Fintech and digital innovation across entire economies constitutes both a new paradigm for financial institutions as well as an opportunity to engage in creative partnerships. But in order to do so, one must first understand the trends and forces that are shaping our new digital world and situate oneself in that landscape for the partnerships to be truly meaningful. This course is about a changing landscape in which microfinance institutions will need to assess new threats, re-evaluate their capabilities, reinvent themselves, imagine new models and rethink their partnership approaches in a way that protects their market position, and sometimes even gives them competitive edge. It will be about making oneself partnership-ready to take full advantage.

Faculty: Innocent Ephraim


Module 5: Data and Data Analytics

This course provides an overview of the opportunity for MFIs and regulators to use data to drive financial inclusion and improve business results. We will explore the use of data in three broad applications, improving operational management, a better understanding of clients (for example, through segmentation), predictive modeling (for example, credit scoring).

The course combines the presentation of concepts with group work to simulate the management of data projects. Each day will contain a 45-minute lab/activity component allowing participants to experiment with popular free tools (Tableau, R, Python) to apply relatively simple analytical techniques to example data sets. Example data and methods will be provided, so no prior programming or analytical experience is needed.

Faculty: Dean Caire


Module 6: Data based Management of Clients and Staff

Digital Transformation can also transform the business model MFIs use. Not only can improved data management provide more tailored credit offerings and facilitate the distribution of other products and services, it can generate an intensified, personalized and highly connected relationship between field staff and clients. In this module we will understand the essential ingredients MFIs need to build a data management system that can react quickly to a changing competitive environment and allow for a diverse and evolved set of financial services.

Faculty: Dagoberto Cereceda


Module 7: Risk, Fraud and Consumer Protection in DFS

The pace of change across financial services is broad, deep and accelerating. Customer needs are rapidly evolving while new entrants and digital technologies are bringing both increasing complexity and new value propositions to the market daily. It is imperative that MFIs do not underestimate the importance and challenges of privacy, security and protection in their drive to keep up.

The goal of this course is to develop an understanding of the key types of risks that MFIs face with the adoption of digital technologies. We will examine and discuss the key developments and issues in customer onboarding, privacy, and protection, as well as in cybersecurity, AML and fraud. With this foundational understanding, we will explore the risks and opportunities presented by new digital technologies from digital identity through API’s.

By the end of the course, participants will understand key trends and issues. Most importantly, they will have sharpened their ability to think in a holistic manner about digital risks.

Faculty: Paul Makin


Module 8: Developing an Agile Design Approach

A vision without a plan to execute is just a dream… but how do you “eat that elephant” and deliver that vision? How are start-ups behaving differently when it comes to deciding what to do and how to launch?

It’s not just about the way they build the technology, but their approach to design & planning, and their approach to teamwork, collaboration, use of data, and service design that uses digital tools throughout.

Agile is the new project planning buzzword – but applying agile blindly will not guarantee success either. This course demystifies how fintechs and start-ups apply agile approaches, and uncovers some of the pitfalls to avoid, using stories from the field of emerging markets product innovation as case studies. We will apply some tools and techniques that can be applied pragmatically to drive to desired outcomes, whatever the size of the project.

The end result will be pulling all of this together to create an agile-centred project plan. The course will include the opportunity to work in teams to practice some of the techniques covered.

Faculty: Lesley-Ann Vaughan


Module 9: Managing the Human Dimension of Change

This module looks at the human element associated with the change brought about by digital projects and digital transformation journeys that institutions embark on.
Digital finance or digital transformation projects are often labeled as IT projects because people do not consider the human quotient, mind-space and effort needed to wholly embrace functioning with digital tools, channels, products & services, processes,…
The change management and leadership necessary to lead organisations through these Digital projects is indispensable.
Finally, as much as staff comfort and efficiency with Digital is important, so is client centricity. Building digital channels and offerings for end customers is becoming more and more of a requirement world over but so is the need to maintain contact. This module will also touch upon how we can work in a progressively digital environment and yet maintain the human touch which is core to the microfinance profession.

Faculty: Sahana Arun Kumar


Module 10: Strategic Direction for a Future Beyond Classic Microfinance

The financial sector landscape is changing rapidly with the rise of disruptive innovators, digitization and big data technology. These developments spur competition and bring complexity to the sector, while also providing opportunities for creative partnerships between traditional microfinance providers and new entrants. These new partnerships have the potential to both enhance financial services and reduce operational costs.

COVID-19 has accelerated these trends, as delivery of financial services offers the potential to manage COVID-19-related risks, maintain operations and provide uninterrupted services, support customer ability to transact during lockdowns, and minimize in-person interactions and the potential spread of the virus through exchanging cash. This course is designed to equip microfinance practitioners – both those with and without formal seniority/decision-making authority – with tools for strategic planning at institutional and individual levels. Combining technical skills with personal leadership tools, we will work to address issues relevant to you and your institution and better enable you to respond effectively in your market.

Faculty: Martin Holtmann