Get the insight of the Boulder Digital Transformation of MFIs programme thanks to Violette Cubier, grantee – Week 1

Get the insight of the Boulder Digital Transformation of MFIs programme thanks to Violette Cubier, grantee – Week 1

Week 1: 26/08/2021

The 1st online edition of the Boulder Microfinance Training (Digital Transformation of MFIs Programme) has been launched on Thursday 26th of August 2021.
The programme is attended by around 50 professionals, from many different nationalities, with employees of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), consulting firms, funders and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Due to the covid-19 crisis, the Boulder programmes were canceled in 2020. This year, Boulder Institute is introducing the first edition of its online programmes:

  • the traditional Microfinance training Programme (MFT)
  • the Digital Transformation of MFIs (DT-MFIs) that I will attend. (Get to know Violette Cubier here)

The programme will take place over 10 weeks, with a last session planned in November. Each week, the participants will follow an online training module, with a mix of videos from faculty members and from other practitioners in the field, readings, quizzes and exercises to reflect on the main lessons of the module and their implementation. The online training module is complemented with a 2-hours class during a live session, every Thursday. Overall, the engagement is of about 6 hours a week, with a minimum of 60 engagement hours over the course of the programme – which is similar to the engagement for the on-site programmes.

The 10 modules will be as follows:

  • Module 1: Response of the microfinance community to the COVID pandemic
  • Module 2: Strategic and business planning for transformational change
  • Module 3: Rethinking financial products for the digital age
  • Module 4: Building partnerships and a digital financial ecosystem for your clients
  • Moduel 5: Data and data analytics
  • Module 6: Data based management of clients and staff
  • Module 7: Risk, fraud and consumer protection in DFS
  • Module 8: Developing an agile design approach
  • Module 9: Managing the human dimension of change
  • Module 10: Strategic direction for a future beyond classic microfinance

A key challenge with the online programmes will be to maintain a high level of interactivity. Interactions with peers is usually very appreciated by participants of the Boulder programmes. Boulder Institute intends to have a highly interactive training course, thanks to various tools: online polls, group discussions and group exercises, interactive tools to work in teams remotely, chats between participants. So far, I have been positively surprised by the very high level of interaction, compared to other online events/trainings I have attended in the past.
Last Thursday, the first plenary lesson was held by Robert Peck Christen, President and founding member of the Boulder Institute. It consisted in a general introduction on the impact of the COVID crisis on the microfinance sector, and the response of the community

Some key messages were introduced, and will be detailed during the first module:
Crises in all natures usually divide markets, with some institutions reinforced after the crisis, while others collapse. Some key factors of success include: taking measures that are based on feedbacks from the ground and field staff, being client centric, segmenting clients to provide the right answer and products, and individualised responses rather than one single response.
Providing a single response to all clients (forgetting all loans, same grace period for all clients) can be very detrimental both to clients and to the MFIs who might lose income. However, segmenting clients requires an MIS allowing this type of segmentation, a good level of digitalisation, and the proper resources to be able to adapt processes and products very quickly. Many MFIs still lack these resources and level of digitalisation.
With the COVID crisis, most MFIs have accelerated their digitalisation process, with a focus on digitalising communication means. While digitalising communication means is a first important step (and even crucial in a time of crisis), MFIs will need to go beyond that for changes to really pay off. Digitalisation brings the most gains when used to find new clients, new income sources, to offer new services and products tailored to the needs of the clients.

The different modules of the programme will precisely tackle all these key challenges.

Author: Violette Cubier