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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INFORMATION SQUEEZING

ImageOne of the main problems for researchers is the generating the right data that they can use.  Since you have a hypothesis before you start, the design of the research is towards the validation or the rejection of the hypothesis.  There are times when researchers  are becoming too hard (too irritating!) on the respondents or the  participants to focus group discussions to the point where the respondents would just  give answers they thought would be the “right” answer that the researchers would like   to hear. In the end we may have the data but it may be useless since it was squeezed out.

This brings us to the point that in market research, we have to have a relaxed atmosphere where respondents and   researchers can share freely.  Researchers are supposed to be facilitators who will coach respondents to bring out what is really in their minds.  Respondents on the other hand will react to how they are being guided and cued in their sharing.

Some tips in doing interviews and focus group discussions:

  1. Be relaxed. Smile a lot to convey you’re a friend and not an interrogator.
  2. Ask questions slowly so that the participants can hear it clearly. Allow sometime for them to think and organize their answers.
  3. Listen. That means active listening and getting the essence of what the participants are saying.
  4. Ask probing questions to confirm what you hear, to clarify what you do not understand or you want more details or additional information.
  5. Always thank the participants after each interview or discussion.