MICROLEAD EXPANSION PROGRAMME

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2014-2015, UNCDF
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
06/2015
Completion Date:
05/2016
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
300,000

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Title MICROLEAD EXPANSION PROGRAMME
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2014-2015, UNCDF
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 05/2016
Planned End Date: 06/2015
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Poverty and MDG
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 1.1. National and sub-national systems and institutions enabled to achieve structural transformation of productive capacities that are sustainable and employment - and livelihoods- intensive
Evaluation Budget(US $): 300,000
Source of Funding: Programme
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 163,100
Joint Programme: No
Mandatory Evaluation: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: UNCDF, The MasterCard Foundation, Financial Services Providers, Governments
Countries: BENINBURKINA FASOBURUNDICAMEROON, REPUBLIC OFERITREAESTONIA, REPUBLIC OFGHANALIBERIAMALAWITANZANIA (UNITED REPUBLIC OF )UGANDA
Comments:

BENIN BURKINA FASO BURUNDI CAMEROON, REPUBLIC OF GHANA LIBERIA MALAWI RWANDA TANZANIA (UNITED REPUBLIC OF ) UGANDA

Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 1: Deep dive in due diligence; Need for technical expertise.

The due diligence process adopted by MLE is adequate for proposals with accurate figures and transparent reporting of operations. This is more than often not the case as seen in MLE.  In such cases, the due diligence process needs to incorporate an independent review of the FSP’s operations and financials and the review should be done by technical agencies/persons with prior experience. In cases where external rating reports are available, these should be made use of. In cases where rating reports are not available and there is significant doubt about the FSPs’ reported figures, audits (portfolio/MIS) should be carried out as part of the due diligence process. This will ensure that baseline figures are accurate and problems are identified before investment committee decisions are taken.

2

Higher FSP involvement in proposal formulation.

TSP driven project proposals wherein the TSP has the main responsibility for determining the scope of the TA, the allocation of tasks and resources leads to lower ownership by the FSP. Though a majority of the FSPs appreciated the support provided by the TSPs, many felt that they had limited say in deciding upon the programme deliverables, budget allocation or operating areas. In this regard, it would be prudent for UNCDF to request applications directly from the FSPs, specifically on the areas of TA support required. In the event the FSPs do not have the capability or capacity to submit detailed applications, UNCDF could nonetheless request them to explain the areas where they need TA support and issue RFAs, to which interested TSPs could respond and collaborate with the FSP to refine the activities. However, while making this suggestion the evaluation team is conscious of the fact that this approach may be difficult in the case of smaller community based institutions like SACCOs and village banks.

3

Synergy with existing country programmes to maximise impact

The design of thematic programmes needs to factor in linkages with existing programmes of other agencies to avoid duplication and build synergy. As proposals are formulated by TSPs/FSPs that have adequate knowledge of the country context, one of the key preconditions of proposals should be on detailing how the programme intends to work with other similar programmes.  In cases where no specific programme/s are operational, the design should incorporate synergies with donors and multilaterals with a similar thematic/sector interest. Building a collaborative approach to achieve common goals can also mitigate the budgetary constraint in case of large financial outlays like the purchase of an MIS. Leveraging collaborative efforts and resources should be given priority while selecting proposals.  A project with significant collaboration among agencies also has the potential to enhance market demonstration.

4

Need to have a fine balance between numbers and organizational change

In order to improve effectiveness, efforts need to be made at the design stage of the country programmes to balance emphasis on organisational change and achievement of quantitative targets. Having over-ambitious targets diverts the learning curve of the organisation and programme monitoring to achieving numbers rather than focusing on addressing challenges and making the product and delivery channels more robust for achieving long term impact. The due diligence process needs to be more thorough and analytical to be able to identify appropriate targets for pilots as well as for the roll outs/endlines and should be based on the capacity of the institution, its experience and past achievements.

5

Monitoring programme implementation; no substitute for field visits

As each Programme Specialist is responsible for managing approximately 5 country projects under MLE, it is understandable that their ability to undertake frequent monitoring visits is limited. While the UNCDF MLE PMU closely scrutinizes the TSP/FSP reports to identify critical issues, fewer on-field missions constrain their ability to deep-dive and develop a nuanced understanding of country-level issues. Projects operating in countries where UNCDF representatives are situated have benefitted significantly from the timely on-the ground support provided. Increasing the strength of the PMU and mandating quarterly monitoring visits will strengthen UNCDF’s engagement with the partners and also provide deeper insights on the contextual challenges. Such visits will also serve to reinforce the involvement of other national level stakeholders. In this context, it may be useful for the PMU to review and increase its staff strength accordingly as well as build technical capacity.

6

Higher priority to MIS and reporting systems for informed management decisions

Cases where the MIS and reporting systems are not robust enough to provide accurate data, the programme will benefit from according priority to streamlining the reporting architecture so as to generate accurate data. Going ahead with introducing new products and channels in such cases not only leads to difficulties in monitoring the progress of the project but also adds to the existing problem. TA to the FSPs should be more focused on streamlining the MIS & other systems.

7

Rationalization of reporting requirements; Focus more important than breadth

Grantee reporting requirements have been an area of challenge especially for FSPs with manual systems, and affected the quality of monitoring. The programme attempts to capture quarterly performance data related to the entire financial institution instead of focusing on information directly related to the products developed and clients reached under MLE. While it is understandable that the programme managers and donors should also assess the impact of the intervention at an institutional level, focusing on data of the entire financial institution, especially in case of FSPs with data challenges, dilutes the focus. The PMU should be more concerned about data quality relevant to MLE rather than the breadth of data.

8

TSPs should have a “Feet on the ground” approach for providing TA

It is advisable to have an on-site presence of the TA providers rather than a predominant short-term consulting approach. Short-term consulting may work for some activities like institutional diagnostics and training of trainers but implementation of processes and systems is more effective if the TSPs have on-site involvement. This difference in quality and timeliness of inputs was clearly evident in some of the country programmes when the TSPs increased their on-site presence after initially providing support in a short-term consulting mode.

9

Financial education to be embedded from the start

Financial education is an important component of the MLE programme design in the context of reaching out to low-income populations, particularly women and those living in rural areas. It is necessary to make the target clients understand their financial needs, which can then feed into product design. A financially aware client is also likely to understand and use the products and delivery channels specifically developed for her. In the country programmes, financial education efforts have not been accorded primacy from the start and are only beginning to be mainstreamed now. The low effectiveness of group linkage activities and issue of dormant accounts faced in some of the programmes could have been mitigated by focusing on client education from the start.

10

Temper sustainability expectations

One of the objectives of the MLE programme is to establish sustainable, savings-focused financial institutions in SSA, which will continue providing low balance savings accounts catering to low-income households, including rural and women depositors after the culmination of the programme. Barring two greenfield programmes, the remaining FSPs were existing institutions already targeting the low-income segment of clients or interested in downscaling to expand outreach. TA provided and/or products designed under MLE are not likely to be a major component of an FSP’s assets or liabilities in almost all countries until the end of the programme. In this situation of a five-year programme intending to support existing FSPs in developing loan and savings products targeting low-income clients, the focus should be on capturing the degree of institutional changes achieved on account of the programme and not so much on the contribution to financial sustainability.

11

Knowledge management needs to be accorded primacy

Even though MLE has a strong learning agenda, the progress achieved on this front has been slow, at the mid-term stage. While partners have actively participated in the two MLE workshops organized by UNCDF and identified case study topics, the emphasis on codifying the lessons learnt and programme outcomes has been low. Knowledge management will guide the future course of MLE as well as subsequent UNCDF programmes in the Inclusive Finance space. Given that the programme is scheduled to culminate in June 2017, it is imperative that UNCDF’s MLE PMU ensures that due importance is accorded to achieving the programme’s knowledge management targets. In addition to documenting lessons, the PMU should facilitate regional workshops and meetings with policymakers that help disseminate programme knowledge leading to stakeholder buy-in and to policies favoring the development of alternate delivery channels.

12

Knowledge workshops add substantial value; need to be more frequent

Two regional workshops were organised by MLE PMU and were highly valued by the partner TSPs and FSPs for knowledge sharing leading to the generation of ideas for programmes. Going ahead, it is recommended that more such workshops be organised in various programme countries. The host country TSP/FSP should be encouraged to take the lead in organising such events at the national level.

 

For future programmes, it will be worthwhile to organise a programme initiation workshop, after awarding grants and signing PBAs, in which all the partner FSPs/TSPs can share their implementation approach and also provide an opportunity to UNCDF to explain its expectations from each of the programme partners as well as the reporting requirements. Lessons from past programmes should be shared in this initiation workshop to transfer knowledge and avoid reinventing the wheel. Such a workshop will also be useful in developing a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders. 

13

More focused involvement of secondary stakeholders, particularly policymakers

In order to obtain better buy-in and active involvement of national stakeholders including government, policymakers like central bank and other major donors, it is advisable to have a steering/advisory committee in each programme country. Efforts were made in a couple of the countries to initiate such a committee but have not been effective due to the lack of specific budget allocations meant for this.  Ideally, the formation of a national level steering committee should be part of the PBA and a budget should be provided for organising meetings and covering the allowances of participants. This will feed into the market demonstration component of the programme and also contribute to influencing policy.

1. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 1: Deep dive in due diligence; Need for technical expertise.

The due diligence process adopted by MLE is adequate for proposals with accurate figures and transparent reporting of operations. This is more than often not the case as seen in MLE.  In such cases, the due diligence process needs to incorporate an independent review of the FSP’s operations and financials and the review should be done by technical agencies/persons with prior experience. In cases where external rating reports are available, these should be made use of. In cases where rating reports are not available and there is significant doubt about the FSPs’ reported figures, audits (portfolio/MIS) should be carried out as part of the due diligence process. This will ensure that baseline figures are accurate and problems are identified before investment committee decisions are taken.

Management Response:

Disagree with recommendation.  UNCDF FIPA has the technical expertise in-house and has deployed it to ensure partners are capable of implementing their projects.  Where available, independent rating reports were consulted when making recommendations to the IC.  Audited financial statements for three years were also required as part of the application process.  In addition and in response to a recommendation in the MicroLead midterm evaluation (Feb 2013), a quantitative due diligence tool was developed for the MicroLead Expansion proposal review process and an external expert was hired to provide input during the proposal review/investment committee/PBA negotiation process.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
No action required at this time since projects under this programme have already been approved and are underway MLPMU 2016/05 Completed External expert hired for proposal review/IC/PBA negotiation process; RTA and CTA input/support for applications; Majority of grants to TSP/FSP with joint responsibility; new assessment tool developed, including spider graph, risk ranking and defined value addition
For upcoming MicroLead phase 3, UNCDF may require external MIS assessments to understand the “digital-readiness” of prospective partners. MLPMU 2017/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: No funding raised]
Dependent upon funding
2. Recommendation:

Higher FSP involvement in proposal formulation.

TSP driven project proposals wherein the TSP has the main responsibility for determining the scope of the TA, the allocation of tasks and resources leads to lower ownership by the FSP. Though a majority of the FSPs appreciated the support provided by the TSPs, many felt that they had limited say in deciding upon the programme deliverables, budget allocation or operating areas. In this regard, it would be prudent for UNCDF to request applications directly from the FSPs, specifically on the areas of TA support required. In the event the FSPs do not have the capability or capacity to submit detailed applications, UNCDF could nonetheless request them to explain the areas where they need TA support and issue RFAs, to which interested TSPs could respond and collaborate with the FSP to refine the activities. However, while making this suggestion the evaluation team is conscious of the fact that this approach may be difficult in the case of smaller community based institutions like SACCOs and village banks.

Management Response:

Partially agree with recommendation.  UNCDF agrees that now (in 2016) FSPs are more capable and knowledgeable to articulate their needs vis a vis digital financial services.  For future phases of MicroLead, proposals will be solicited from FSPs directly. UNCDF does not agree with the statement that TSP-led proposals lead to lower ownership by FSPs.  There are certainly some cases of this but there are also cases where the FSPs were unaware of their needs or their capacity to implement agency banking or other alternative delivery channels.  Via knowledge management activities under MLE, many partners learned and saw firsthand what institutions similar to their own (typically mid-sized MFIs) were able to accomplish.  Without MLE and the TSPs, these FSPs would never have embarked on DFS.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
No action required at this time since projects under this programme have already been approved and are underway. MLPMU 2016/05 Completed
For upcoming MicroLead phase 3, UNCDF will work first with FSPs as it agrees with the evaluators that now (2016) FSPs are more aware of their needs, in particular regarding digital financial services. At the time of the MLE RFA (2010), the DFS market was very different with many FSPs unable to articulate their needs. MLPMU 2017/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: No funding raised]
Dependent upon funding
3. Recommendation:

Synergy with existing country programmes to maximise impact

The design of thematic programmes needs to factor in linkages with existing programmes of other agencies to avoid duplication and build synergy. As proposals are formulated by TSPs/FSPs that have adequate knowledge of the country context, one of the key preconditions of proposals should be on detailing how the programme intends to work with other similar programmes.  In cases where no specific programme/s are operational, the design should incorporate synergies with donors and multilaterals with a similar thematic/sector interest. Building a collaborative approach to achieve common goals can also mitigate the budgetary constraint in case of large financial outlays like the purchase of an MIS. Leveraging collaborative efforts and resources should be given priority while selecting proposals.  A project with significant collaboration among agencies also has the potential to enhance market demonstration.

Management Response:

Agree with recommendation.  UNCDF agrees that creating synergies with other programmes and donors will have a greater overall effect at country level.  When possible, UNCDF strives to achieve this.  For MLE, only one country out of ten had a UNCDF country programme at the time of MLE IC (Rwanda).

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
No action required at this time since projects under this programme have already been approved and are underway. MLPMU 2016/05 Completed
For upcoming MicroLead phase 3, UNCDF will strengthen its scan of the country environment and engage donors working on the same/similar themes (reaching last mile rural women, DFS, FSP change management). MLPMU 2017/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: No funding raised]
Dependent upon funding
4. Recommendation:

Need to have a fine balance between numbers and organizational change

In order to improve effectiveness, efforts need to be made at the design stage of the country programmes to balance emphasis on organisational change and achievement of quantitative targets. Having over-ambitious targets diverts the learning curve of the organisation and programme monitoring to achieving numbers rather than focusing on addressing challenges and making the product and delivery channels more robust for achieving long term impact. The due diligence process needs to be more thorough and analytical to be able to identify appropriate targets for pilots as well as for the roll outs/endlines and should be based on the capacity of the institution, its experience and past achievements.

Management Response:

Partially agree with recommendation.  UNCDF agrees that there is a fine balance between quantitative targets, which are set by the FSPs (not UNCDF) and other equally important deliverables, such as qualitative milestones including organizational changes.  These qualitative milestones are negotiated with grantees and delineated in the performance-based agreement.  Disbursements are contingent on grantees meeting both quantitative and qualitative targets.  UNCDF understands that over-ambitious quantitative targets may divert FSPs’ attention but it should also be pointed out that UNCDF makes awards to FSPs based on a mutual trust that FSPs know their institutions best and are the best placed to set quantitative targets.  If UNCDF is constantly second guessing its partners, the relationship will not be one of trust but one of suspicion.  UNCDF prefers to work with its partners, refining project details through PBA amendments as project implementation proceeds and unforeseen bottlenecks arise.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Majority of PBAs have undergone/are undergoing amendments. In the amendments, targets are typically lowered but additional activities are detailed (such as piloting agency banking, moving to informal group linkages). MLPMU 2016/12 Completed PBA amendments executed reflecting reality on the ground, capacity of the FSPs.
For upcoming MicroLead phase 3, UNCDF will work with FSPs and other organizations interested in and capable of reaching unbanked populations. The expertise garnered during MLE implementation (such as the time need to design and pilot new products and channels) will be used to design PBAs which balance quantitative targets and institutional change management MLPMU 2017/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: No funding raised]
Dependent upon funding
5. Recommendation:

Monitoring programme implementation; no substitute for field visits

As each Programme Specialist is responsible for managing approximately 5 country projects under MLE, it is understandable that their ability to undertake frequent monitoring visits is limited. While the UNCDF MLE PMU closely scrutinizes the TSP/FSP reports to identify critical issues, fewer on-field missions constrain their ability to deep-dive and develop a nuanced understanding of country-level issues. Projects operating in countries where UNCDF representatives are situated have benefitted significantly from the timely on-the ground support provided. Increasing the strength of the PMU and mandating quarterly monitoring visits will strengthen UNCDF’s engagement with the partners and also provide deeper insights on the contextual challenges. Such visits will also serve to reinforce the involvement of other national level stakeholders. In this context, it may be useful for the PMU to review and increase its staff strength accordingly as well as build technical capacity.

Management Response:

Partially agree with recommendation.  UNCDF agrees to increase staff and be present in countries of implementation, if budget allows.  With the methodology used in MLE, the TSPs were the on-the-ground point of contact and it was not deemed value for money to employ UNCDF staff in each country.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
No action required at this time since budget does not allow to hire additional staff. MLPMU 2016/05 Completed
For upcoming MicroLead phase 3, UNCDF plans to work more through country programming and in these instances will have at least one national staff in each country who will be responsible for overall FIPA programming in a country and providing deep insights on contextual challenges, donor trends, industry trends, etc. UNCDF 2017/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: No funding raised]
Dependent upon funding
6. Recommendation:

Higher priority to MIS and reporting systems for informed management decisions

Cases where the MIS and reporting systems are not robust enough to provide accurate data, the programme will benefit from according priority to streamlining the reporting architecture so as to generate accurate data. Going ahead with introducing new products and channels in such cases not only leads to difficulties in monitoring the progress of the project but also adds to the existing problem. TA to the FSPs should be more focused on streamlining the MIS & other systems.

Management Response:

Agree with recommendation.  UNCDF agrees as to the importance of having a good MIS prior to introducing new channels.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
No action required at this time as the programme is in its final year. MLPMU 2016/05 Completed
For upcoming MicroLead phase 3, UNCDF will include, as part of initial proposal stage/EOI, where deemed necessary, a MIS analysis to be conducted by a third party (most likely MIX Market). MLPMU 2017/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: No funding raised]
Dependent upon funding
7. Recommendation:

Rationalization of reporting requirements; Focus more important than breadth

Grantee reporting requirements have been an area of challenge especially for FSPs with manual systems, and affected the quality of monitoring. The programme attempts to capture quarterly performance data related to the entire financial institution instead of focusing on information directly related to the products developed and clients reached under MLE. While it is understandable that the programme managers and donors should also assess the impact of the intervention at an institutional level, focusing on data of the entire financial institution, especially in case of FSPs with data challenges, dilutes the focus. The PMU should be more concerned about data quality relevant to MLE rather than the breadth of data.

Management Response:

Partially agree with recommendation.  The institutional reporting requirements included in all FIPA PBAs are standard.  ML does not withhold tranche disbursements if non-ML targets are not met (e.g., if borrower targets are not met, ML will waive this requirement because ML’s focus is on savings mobilization).  Institutions report to MIX Market on institutional data so this requirement is not an extra burden but an industry-wide responsibility to provide FSP data on a public forum. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
FIPA management to determine whether standard PBA reporting requirements can be lessened. UNCDF 2017/05 Completed Discussion held with FIPA management and no change to standard reporting requirements in PBA will be made
8. Recommendation:

TSPs should have a “Feet on the ground” approach for providing TA

It is advisable to have an on-site presence of the TA providers rather than a predominant short-term consulting approach. Short-term consulting may work for some activities like institutional diagnostics and training of trainers but implementation of processes and systems is more effective if the TSPs have on-site involvement. This difference in quality and timeliness of inputs was clearly evident in some of the country programmes when the TSPs increased their on-site presence after initially providing support in a short-term consulting mode.

Management Response:

Agree with recommendation.  UNCDF agrees that for some activities on site presence results in better outcomes.  Future phases of ML will be implemented with FSPs directly (who can then hire TSPs if need be), thus this recommendation is moot for future phases.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
For future ML programming, TSPs will not be the lead institution. MLPMU 2017/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: No funding raised]
Dependent upon funding
9. Recommendation:

Financial education to be embedded from the start

Financial education is an important component of the MLE programme design in the context of reaching out to low-income populations, particularly women and those living in rural areas. It is necessary to make the target clients understand their financial needs, which can then feed into product design. A financially aware client is also likely to understand and use the products and delivery channels specifically developed for her. In the country programmes, financial education efforts have not been accorded primacy from the start and are only beginning to be mainstreamed now. The low effectiveness of group linkage activities and issue of dormant accounts faced in some of the programmes could have been mitigated by focusing on client education from the start.

Management Response:

Disagree with recommendation as project sequencing required fin-ed to come at a later date.  Financial education is an important component of creating customer value and awareness.  It remains one of the most important aspects to reach full financial inclusion, yet there remains no industry-wide agreed upon cost-effective strategy for including fin-ed in FI programming.  ML will continue to require fin-ed components in all projects, including piloting the use of technology (e.g., videos on cell phones) to lower costs.  In terms of sequencing, the ML projects all started with market research, then product and channel development and design, which included the fin-ed aspect.  ML does not agree with the evaluators’ conclusion that fin-ed needs to be embedded from the start since other activities (market research, product/channel development) needed to precede fin-ed roll-out.  With costs of fin-ed still a major challenge, UNCDF feels that governments (particularly Ministries of Education) are well suited to embed fin-ed in school curricula and UNCDF will continue to work with policymakers to encourage fin-ed activities be supported through public funds.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
ML will continue to require fin-ed components in all projects. Using technology to lower the cost is being piloted in a number of ML projects. Lessons will be transferred to the next phase of ML. MLPMU 2016/05 Completed
Where possible, UNCDF will work with policymakers to address fin-ed activities. UNCDF 2017/05 Completed Discussion held with FIPA management and fin-ed activities may be embedded in new country programming as deemed appropriate
10. Recommendation:

Temper sustainability expectations

One of the objectives of the MLE programme is to establish sustainable, savings-focused financial institutions in SSA, which will continue providing low balance savings accounts catering to low-income households, including rural and women depositors after the culmination of the programme. Barring two greenfield programmes, the remaining FSPs were existing institutions already targeting the low-income segment of clients or interested in downscaling to expand outreach. TA provided and/or products designed under MLE are not likely to be a major component of an FSP’s assets or liabilities in almost all countries until the end of the programme. In this situation of a five-year programme intending to support existing FSPs in developing loan and savings products targeting low-income clients, the focus should be on capturing the degree of institutional changes achieved on account of the programme and not so much on the contribution to financial sustainability.

Management Response:

Agree with recommendation.  The MTE addressed the institutional change management which is occurring under MLE.  Monitoring sustainability is a standard FIPA requirement in all PBAs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Anecdotal evidence will be solicited from FSPs during the final year of the programme. MLPMU 2016/12 Completed FSP management interviews, case studies and the MTE are venues by which institutional change is being captured.
For upcoming MicroLead phase 3, UNCDF will attempt to include an institutional change measurement in monitoring and evaluation activities. MLPMU 2017/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: No funding raised]
Dependent upon funding
11. Recommendation:

Knowledge management needs to be accorded primacy

Even though MLE has a strong learning agenda, the progress achieved on this front has been slow, at the mid-term stage. While partners have actively participated in the two MLE workshops organized by UNCDF and identified case study topics, the emphasis on codifying the lessons learnt and programme outcomes has been low. Knowledge management will guide the future course of MLE as well as subsequent UNCDF programmes in the Inclusive Finance space. Given that the programme is scheduled to culminate in June 2017, it is imperative that UNCDF’s MLE PMU ensures that due importance is accorded to achieving the programme’s knowledge management targets. In addition to documenting lessons, the PMU should facilitate regional workshops and meetings with policymakers that help disseminate programme knowledge leading to stakeholder buy-in and to policies favoring the development of alternate delivery channels.

Management Response:

UNCDF agrees that the time is right to focus on KM.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Many KM activities have been undertaken since the evaluators completed their analysis (e.g., third partner workshop in Feb 2016, four additional newsletters, learning exchange visit to Malawi project to expose partners to agency banking, case studies drafted, DFS toolkits development with one toolkit/case study published in November, two research papers contracted, project dissemination workshops held in four countries). MLPMU 2017/06 Completed Final partner workshop held in March 2017. Six DFS toolkits/case studies published. Partner case studies published.
12. Recommendation:

Knowledge workshops add substantial value; need to be more frequent

Two regional workshops were organised by MLE PMU and were highly valued by the partner TSPs and FSPs for knowledge sharing leading to the generation of ideas for programmes. Going ahead, it is recommended that more such workshops be organised in various programme countries. The host country TSP/FSP should be encouraged to take the lead in organising such events at the national level.

 

For future programmes, it will be worthwhile to organise a programme initiation workshop, after awarding grants and signing PBAs, in which all the partner FSPs/TSPs can share their implementation approach and also provide an opportunity to UNCDF to explain its expectations from each of the programme partners as well as the reporting requirements. Lessons from past programmes should be shared in this initiation workshop to transfer knowledge and avoid reinventing the wheel. Such a workshop will also be useful in developing a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders. 

Management Response:

Partial agreement with this recommendation.  UNCDF agrees that the partner learning workshops are one of the most successful aspects of the programme but to hold more than one per year is unrealistic as they are very time consuming to organize and costly, plus by spacing them out to one per year, the partners have the time to take stock of prior year activities and report out on them.  UNCDF feels that bringing all partners together once per year is best for all parties involved.  In-country dissemination workshops have been held in the second half of 2016, co-organized by ML and FSPs/TSPs.  They have been a very successful method to share out to country stakeholders and bring more visibility to ML. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Continue with KM activities as laid out in the KM/communications workplan. MLPMU 2017/06 Completed
For upcoming ML phase 3, budget will be requested for full time KM staff and monitoring and learning staff. MLPMU 2017/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: No funding raised]
Dependent upon funding
For upcoming ML phase 3, programme initiation workshop will be included in workplan. MLPMU 2017/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: No funding raised]
Dependent upon funding
13. Recommendation:

More focused involvement of secondary stakeholders, particularly policymakers

In order to obtain better buy-in and active involvement of national stakeholders including government, policymakers like central bank and other major donors, it is advisable to have a steering/advisory committee in each programme country. Efforts were made in a couple of the countries to initiate such a committee but have not been effective due to the lack of specific budget allocations meant for this.  Ideally, the formation of a national level steering committee should be part of the PBA and a budget should be provided for organising meetings and covering the allowances of participants. This will feed into the market demonstration component of the programme and also contribute to influencing policy.

Management Response:

UNCDF is moving towards a country-focused implementation strategy.  As such, all programmes will be engaged through an in-country staff member with government and other stakeholders.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
As the transition back to country-focused programming occurs, in-country staff will be responsible for stakeholder engagement. UNCDF No due date Initiated Timeframe - As country programming is initiated

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