In emerging markets across Africa, microfinance institutions (MFIs) and other financial service providers (FSPs) play a critical role providing financial services to people who are unable to obtain traditional finance. Despite its important role, this sector in Africa faces enormous challenges. In 2013, our survey of African FSPs revealed governance and risk management as the primary vulnerabilities in the sector. Weak governance and risky behavior also played a role in microfinance crises in Nicaragua, Morocco, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Pakistan. CFI decided to commit to helping African FSPs focus on governance and risk—and not just individually, but at a sectoral level—to avoid this fate.
We quickly realized we would be starting nearly from scratch. The handful of existing governance resources on the market at the time comprised generic, one-off trainings or were geared to corporate participants. We knew that this kind of classroom-based, lecture-heavy, training was not an effective strategy for senior board members, whose time was valuable and who were often in positions of authority in other walks of life.
We wanted to create something meaningful and effective, tailor-made for FSPs, and delivered in a manner that would stick with participants so that they could lead their organizations and their industry to grow and prosper.