Njeri and the superplatforms

Photo credit:  Rachel Strohm, Flickr

Photo credit: Rachel Strohm, Flickr

Njeri is a 29-year-old single woman living in Nairobi. She is a budding entrepreneur selling vitenges both on online and offline platforms. She has sold to all the potential customers within her network and is looking for other platforms to sell her products. How can she use superplatforms to sell her merchandise? What are the advantages of selling on superplatfoms? What repercussions will they have for local businesses and financial services providers? Our latest blog post explores what this means bfa.works/Njeri-and-the-superplatforms

Three Barriers to Smartphone Readiness in Emerging Markets


The FIBR program seeks to leverage the fact that smartphone ownership is increasing, and that the adoption of these mini computers opens up a world of new data that was previously invisible - locked in paper ledgers or in the minds of small business owners and sales agents.

For this reason, Sokowatch and FIBR jointly developed a smartphone-enabled solution for ordering goods and accessing credit. Read about the key barriers to smartphone adoption by merchants in their businesses. http://bfa.works/three-barriers-to-smartphone-readiness

Watch our video about our partnership with Sokowatch

"Artificial Intelligence: Practical Superpowers," a New Report

With knowledge comes power. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful way to harness data into knowledge and into action.  For financial services providers in Africa, the real value of AI and its forms, such as machine learning, lies in practical applications that can reduce the cost to serve and acquire customers -- creating more viable business models for broader segments of the market. Several financial services providers are already using AI to eliminate business inefficiencies, manage business and customer risk and create more seamless customer experiences. More and more providers, not just the large players, have the opportunity to do the same.

On May 16th, BFA launched the first-ever report on artificial intelligence as it relates  to financial services in Africa and the low-income customer. “Artificial Intelligence: Practical Superpowers,” is relevant for fintech companies and FSPs in Africa who are interested in or looking to move into AI. The FIBR paper presents a practical and compelling case for companies to seriously consider AI in their business by:

  1. Identifying the main use cases in financial services through industry players in Africa

  2. Providing real examples of applied machine learning through BFA’s portfolio of work with low-income customers and inclusive fintech companies

  3. Covering the challenges and introducing an AI readiness framework for firms take next steps and test-driving AI demos from the MSME and PAYGo sectors


Join Us for the Report Launch Reception

Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Time: 6:00 - 9:00 PM


With remarks from: 

Amolo Ng'weno - FIBR Program Director, East Africa director, BFA

Matt Gamser -  CEO of the SME Finance Forum

Africa SME Finance Forum 2018


Date: 15th - 16th May

Location: Nairobi

The Africa SME Finance Forum 2018 will examine the key challenges faced by MSMEs in Africa, and explore innovative local and global best practice solutions to promote youth entrepreneurship and enhance access to financing for MSMEs. The conference will focus on how Africa is harnessing digital technology to disrupt traditional banking industry and to create new banking infrastructure to fill gaps where there has been a lack of access to financial services. Topics covered include blockchain and SME finance, incumbent and "challenger" banking, electronic payments and remittances, and youth entrepreneurship finance.

The Africa Forum will also feature global good practices and cutting-edge innovations by bringing leading and successful innovators, internationally recognized experts, and successful practitioners to share their perspectives and experiences. The conference will be preceded by member only study visits to financial institutions and fintechs that have innovative ways of serving SMEs clients.

Webinar: Escaping Darkness: Consumer Value in PAYGo


Pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) solar is one of the most exciting trends in both energy access and financial inclusion. PAYGo's value proposition for the consumer has often been explained purely in terms of net savings and reduced kerosene spending. But results from research funded by CGAP and FIBR present a more nuanced picture of a financing model that provides great value to customers but can leave them vulnerable to exploitation.

In this webinar, CGAP and FIBR will present the results of our research in Kenya, Tanzania, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, taking a close look at some of the more controversial insights. Are customers saving money, or are they in debt over their heads? Can providers find a way to encourage joint spousal loan decisions, or is that asking too much, too soon? And is there a way to bring this model to the lowest income households? With input from the PAYGo sector and CGAP's Gender and Financial Inclusion Community of Practice, a frank and open discussion will ultimately focus on the question: Does this model work for the end consumer?

Date: March 6th, 2018

Time: 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. (U.S. EST)


Julie Zollmann (BFA) was lead researcher into PAYGo consumer insights for this project. She works both independently and with BFA to understand the demand side of retail financial service markets. As a senior associate at BFA, she worked on research to better understand consumer responses to electronic government transfer payments, consumer needs and preferences in savings devices, and financial capability in the context of branchless banking. 

Daniel Waldron (CGAP) is a researcher specializing in business models that leverage digital finance to achieve development objectives. He heads the water and energy work done by CGAP under Digital Finance Plus and managed the CGAP-FIBR research into PAYGo. He has authored numerous publications on the potential of PAYGo solar and has managed digital finance research in Asia and Africa. He holds a bachelor of fine arts and a masters in international development.

Paul Warnars (Off Grid Electric) is the head of Customer and Market Intelligence at Off Grid Electric, a pay-as-you-go solar provider operating in East and West Africa. Paul is in charge of new market scoping, customer insight studies, baseline country profiles, competitor analysis, and quarterly customer metrics. He has been with Off Grid Electric for four and a half years, and has lived in East Africa for six years. He holds a bachelor of business economics, bachelor of philosophy, and master of science in international development studies.

Yasmin Bin-Humam (CGAP) is a financial sector specialist at CGAP focusing on gender issues. She facilitates a community of practice on women's financial inclusion. Before joining CGAP, Yasmin developed indicators measuring women's equality under the law for the World Bank's Women, Business and the Law project and contributed to publications on legal barriers to women's economic empowerment. Her prior work experience spans the public, private, and non-governmental sectors. Yasmin holds JD and MSFS degrees from Georgetown University and a bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard.


Read the report: Escaping Darkness: Understanding Consumer Value in PAYGo Solar

Our other work focusing on PAYGo Solar: PAYGO Solar Briefing Note

Learn more about CGAP's work: PAYGo Solar

Superplatforms in Africa: Not if, but When


The entry of Superplatforms into Africa is inevitable, and there will be repercussions for financial services providers, regulators and customers. There’s a huge opportunity for providers to work with local Fintechs and businesses and to expand and create positive two-way relationships with small and medium enterprises. Read the blog and download the report on Inclusive Digital Ecosystems of the Future.

The Superplatforms are Coming … And They Will Transform Financial Inclusion

David Porteous / Olga Morawczynski


For decades experts have claimed that banks are dead or dying, but they have persisted. However, the entrance of new internet giants or “superplatforms” into financial services may finally spell doom for some traditional financial institutions.

Read the blog on how internet giants are transforming financial services and download the report on Inclusive Digital Ecosystems of the Future.

Escaping Darkness: Understanding Consumer Value in PAYGo Solar


This second report by CGAP and FIBR seeks to understand the value that customers derived from PAYGo solar and how they afford it. Going deeper than most surveys, this paper highlights the customers’ own words, along with aggregated insights—a blend of evidence and analysis while offering concrete recommendations for how providers can improve value to customers. 

Read the blog by CGAP here and download the report here. View the clever battery hacks that we saw in Ghana, Tanzania and Cote d'Ivoire to power light sources and charge mobile phones.