16 Jan 2019
ISF Advisors

As financial service providers (FSPs) have increasingly targeted smallholder farmers as potential customers, there is a growing need for FSPs to access unique tools and develop new skills to reach this customer segment. To help address this need, an ecosystem of ‘Business Development Services (BDS) providers has developed, at both local and international levels. BDS includes a range of external advisory services that provide or develop the capabilities needed to design, deliver, and support FSPs’ products and operations. This includes a wide range of offerings, such as strategic planning, inclusive business design, data and digitalization, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

To better understand the experiences and perspectives of FSPs who utilize these BDS providers, ISF Advisors surveyed 47 organizations from around the world, predominantly MFIs, commercial banks, NGOs, and social lenders. The respondents were high-level decision makers, over half from the c-suite level, with broad knowledge of and authority over the decision to hire external BDS services. Our online survey collected a range of data on both the organizations’ individual experiences with BDS providers, as well as their assessment of the availability, quality, and affordability of different categories of BDS.

The following highlights from the survey are offered in the hope that all market participants—FSPs, BDS providers, and donors—can better...

14 Jan 2019
Learning Lab

In early December, the Lab pulled together key stakeholders from across the rural and agricultural finance community to learn more about the opportunity for data analytics (DA). Rooted in the Lab’s 2018 research, Big data could mean big opportunity, the workshop explored key themes around barriers to implementing DA solutions, the business case for DA, and opportunities to enable more investments to move the sector forward.

Coming out of the full-day workshop – which included key decision makers from financial service providers (FSPs), digital service providers (DSPs), and funders – five key insights emerged. 

27 Nov 2018
Mastercard Foundation

The changes involved when a financial institution ‘goes digital’ touches all levels of the business and may even challenge the established business model or institutional identity. The successful implementation of a digital channel thus requires a sound change management plan. Many digital projects that failed or struggled have done so because they did not adequately address change factors such as staff expectations and resistance to change.

IFC's latest Field Note, Changing change management: adapting internal and external culture in times of digital transformationfocuses on the ‘soft’ or interpersonal aspects of digital transformation in the financial sector. It is based on the collective experiences of nine financial institutions over four years and across seven African markets, and presents some concrete advise on how to get change management right to ensure the successful implementation of digital financial services for greater financial inclusion.