Improving and promoting development technologies

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Part of the efforts to hone the skills of technical consultants are cross-country  learning activities. Successful technologies developed in various countries are shared to other consultants to appreciate and be included in the array of tools and methodologies to be offered to clients. Among the technologies featured in the ACCESS Advisory annual planning are the following:

  1. Financial product development. Participatory process of designing loan products. This is best suited for financial institutions who would like their products to fit the needs of their clients, ensuring patronage and minimize default. Extensively used in the Philippines and Nepal.
  2. Dream to Reality Financial Literacy Course (D2R). Originally designed as a motivational tool for migrant workers and their families to manage finances, the course has now become a personal finance tool enabling people to maximize their resources to become financially independent. Migrant workers from the Philippines and Nepal working in Malaysia and South Korea benefit from this technology.
  3. Cooperative Formation. Three-stage process in forming sustainable community-based savings and credit cooperatives. It allows development institutions to phase-out in a community leaving behind an institution owned and managed by the people who can continue with their advocacies. Currently used in Myanmar.
  4. Agriculture and Livestock Financial Analysis (ALFA) Agri-Finance Tool. An Excel-based tool for credit and background check to enable financial institutions to assess the risk level of agricultural and livestock producers borrowing working capital for their production activities. Commissioned by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for Vietnam microfinance institutions (MFIs).
  5. Value Chain Development. Identifying economic activities to be engaged in based on the results of value chain analysis (VCA) of specific commodities. Business planning for start-up activities or expansion of existing enterprises linked with the agricultural or livestock production. Extensively used in Myanmar.

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Developing appropriate Financial Literacy (FinLit) materials

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Adult education requires more innovative methodologies relevant to the absorptive capacity and the culture of the participants.   PFTAS has developed practical materials that can be used by MFIs to introduce new financial concepts, effect change in attitude and reinforce financial discipline among its clients.   One of the main materials developed by PFTAS was the flipchart.  Its main utility is being a “conversation-starter”.  Credit officers or promotions staff of MFIs can use this to start a conversation and generate interest in discussing financial issues. In the process, the clients are sharing their ideas, while the staff of the MFIs can share new concepts. The chart primarily uses images that the clients can relate to.  The material is presently being used by 7 MFIs in Cambodia and 4 MFIs in Vietnam.

Another set of materials developed are the “reminders”. These are stationary materials placed in strategic places where clients often go – markets, MFI offices, community centers and the like.  Billboards, streamers and stand-alone posters fall under this category. These materials contain messages that reinforce the topics discussed with the credit officers.  Calendars can also be considered as part of reminder materials.  Other than promote the MFI as an institution, it can be a strong Finlit material that is present in the house of the client the whole year round.

With over indebtedness becoming one of the main concerns of the microfinance industry, a more comprehensive financial education program should be developed and implemented.  It is not a concern of individual MFIs but rather the whole microfinance industry.