By Adam Ihucha
For two years, 26-year-old Emmy Alphonce graduate on communications and Public Relations lived with a faint hope that one day she would be able to establish her firm
But lack of start-ups funds thwarted her ambition, leaving her practicing PR in her mind, visualizing the excitement, capturing that moment only in the lenses deeply hidden in her heart.
Miss Emmy is not alone, many graduates struggle to be entrepreneurs, but their dreams are turned to be nightmares due to lack of finance.
Nearly 54 percent of 45 million Tanzanians have no access to formal financial services, despite the fact that financial institutions have been struggling to reach them.
Various studies highlighted illiteracy as one of key factors behind the mess, but during the just ended ‘FinDisrupt’ event in Arusha that brought together product development teams among financial service providers as well as researchers in the financial sector, tech developers and end users, a new insight came in the picture.
Traditionally, financial experts have been working extra time to capture this huge market by pushing their readymade products through orchestrated marketing strategies, but in vain.
Now, the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT) experts gave an interesting insight that the financial products that have been pushed on the market do not respond to the real challenges facing the local people.
“The tricky issue is that experts have been trying hard to make people understand their products, instead of them to comprehend the customers need well before creating product” says FSDT operations director, Irene Mlola.
After intense training and discussion, it was evident that financial service developers, now than ever before, need to change their mindset when it comes to design financial products.
Ibanga Umanah, Co Founder Brave Venture Labs at San Fransisco says that to win customers, it is imperative to come up with human centered products.
“Human centered design is a process for understanding people and designing solutions to their problems” Dr Umanah explained.
Although, institutions such as Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT), the world Bank, the National Bureau of Statistics and a number of market research firms among others, generate insights on the demand side of the financial sector, the response from the market, but new products does not give the confidence that the insights generated are being used for the improvement and development of new innovative products.
It was from this background, FSDT decided to ignite a conversation on consumer centered product development in order to fill the product improvement and development gap in Tanzania.
At the end of the FinDisrupt convening, leading experts on financial inclusion designed a Kuza financial product for star-ups, which is an urgent need to tackle the youth’s plight.
CRDB through microfinance product will adopt the idea to offer collateral free capital for startups and promote their businesses online free.
The head of CRDB Microfinance product, mr Gideon Gabriel, who attended the FinDisrupt event agreed to embrace the new financial service to help support the startups.
Indeed, youths in Tanzania make up the majority of the population. Prioritizing youths’ financial inclusion is a lever for achieving inclusive growth.
The opportunity for financial services companies is equally compelling: Nearly half a million youths graduates in Tanzania every year with various skills, but not often finding-financial solutions for business start-ups.
Despite the clear case for targeting this group, too often, financial products are designed for higher-income consumers or for governments seeking more effective channels for disbursing social payments.
The products are rarely designed with low-income youths in mind—such as a young graduate Emmy in a remote area, or a carpenter who has skills, but lack capital or collateral.