GrEEn builds design thinking skills of young fintech start-ups in Ghana

Arianna Gasparri, Technical Specialist, UNCDF

On May 5, 2022, UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and Design Thinking Hub Ghana (DTHG) organized a workshop on the practice of design thinking for fintech and start-ups as part of its activities championing the financial innovation agenda in Ghana.

Under the European-Union funded GrEEn Project, UNCDF is tasked with increasing access to and usage of financial services for youth, women, returning migrants and MSMEs in the Ashanti and Western Regions of Ghana. As part of this mandate, UNCDF is working with Financial Service Providers (FSPs) in Ghana to ensure that financial products and services are customer-centric and foster inclusion for vulnerable groups at the last mile. In 2021, DTGH provided an extensive Technical Assistance Facility to GrEEn partners to design financial services for targeted groups in Western and Ashanti regions. This Facility included a human-centred design (HCD) research in the targeted areas to understand the needs of men, youth and women.

The results and insights from the study were then used to inform the design and development of financial services that are now in their pilot phase. Watch our video series to know more about this journey: Customers come first.

In 2022, UNCDF expanded the opportunity to other providers with high potential for impact to share learnings from such Facility and further reach the broader community of FSPs. The workshop was geared towards building the capacity of the startups and fintechs that had not been reached through GrEEn so far but have a clear vision of inclusion of the most vulnerable groups. The objective was to equip as many startups and fintechs with the know-how needed to solve challenges in developing financial services and products that fit the needs of clients.

UNCDF working in partnership with MEST Ghana, Stanbic Business Incubator and Ghana Fintech and Payments Association, invited representatives of selected fintechs and start-ups. During the workshop, the participants received coaching on defining the challenges they face in terms of customer acquisition and retention, identifying the ideal profile of their clients (personae), the research protocols needed to gather data on clients’ needs and how to respond to these needs.

The final goal of such initiative was to extend the knowledge of HCD to the broader fintech community and contribute to the design of digital services that meet the wants and needs of low-income customers.

The President of the Ghana Fintech and Payments Association (GFPA), Martin Awagah, who witnessed the workshop, said, “Ghana has many innovators in the digital finance sector, and it is crucial to offer such relevant skills to allow them to finetune their business models to meet real market needs. GFPA is ready to partner with organizations such as UNCDF, which shares our vision of catalyzing innovation, sharing knowledge and assisting fintechs in succeeding within the country.”

The Innovation Officer at the Bank of Ghana who also attended the event as opportunity to hear from the fintech startups, Sharon-Rose Lithur, said, “These initiatives allow us to interact with the fintech community and hear their needs and aspirations that are our priority. We have an open-door policy, and organizations and individuals can walk in and engage with us. Having these opportunities is an additional and practical way to engage with our stakeholders. We welcome the efforts of UNCDF in promoting public-private dialogues.”

UNCDF aims to position the GrEEn Project and the European Union at the forefront of the financial innovation agenda in Ghana to leave no one behind in the digital era. Vulnerable groups deserve tailored products and services that contribute to giving them control over their financial lives. Under the GrEEn Project, UNCDF advocates and provides tailored technical assistance to partners and stakeholders to keep beneficiaries at the centre of the action.

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