Boulder Institute partnered with The MasterCard Foundation again for the 3rd Global Symposium on Financial Inclusion in Cape Town, South Africa
Last month in Cape Town, South Africa, over 300 leaders from the financial inclusion community came together to discuss client-centric practices in microfinance. As this was the third Symposium in the series, we were able to dig deeper into the key challenges faced by institutions when working to best serve client needs. The Symposium was exciting, engaging and delivered a valuable training experience for financial service providers, consultants, donors and other key stakeholders.
Photographer: Alexia Webster
The first and second Symposia focused on orienting our broader community with client-centric practices and looked to increase the understanding of why it's key to improve the creation and delivery of financial products for the poor. We also explored the client journey to better understand clients' usage habits. This year, we focused on three themes that we felt were integral to understanding how to broaden financial services for the poor: Organizational Leadership, Customer Experience and The Business Case.
The leadership session was moderated by CNBC Africa anchor Gugulethu Cele and was simulcast live across Africa. The customer experience panel was led by Gerhard Coetzee from CGAP and featured cases of fall-out points and how to correct issues and better serve clients. Boulder Institute President Robert Christen developed and led the session on building the business case and featured stories from YES Bank (India), BIMA (Sweden), Kenya Commercial Bank (Kenya) and Opportunity International.
Keynotes Bolaji Akinboro and Ken Njoroge (Cellulant) and Claire Burns (Metlife) as well as Ignacio Mas (Digital Frontiers Institute) and James Mwangi (Equity Bank) all shared stories of growth, challenges and experiences from the field.
As organizational leadership is repeatedly mentioned as a key driver of client-centric practices, we also felt it was important to focus a session completely on the challenges from a CEO's perspective. Kim Wilson (Fletcher School, Tufts) moderated a discussion from microfinance practitioners to share stories and give participants food for thought on how to overcome challenges.
Our final session was a lively debate around the position of MFIs in the future as we move into a more digital age. The audience actually changed their mind through the course of the debate and decided that "Yes, MFIs will be the primary providers meeting the financial needs and expectations of excluded groups in a digitally enabled world."
Our hope is that the Symposium was once again a platform that assisted our community to move further into client-centric practices. Boulder Institute remains excited about continuing our work on the topic through future training programs and events.