The Alliance of Digital Finance Associations, Digital Frontiers, Fintech.MZ and FSD Mozambique were excited to discuss how local capacity building initiatives in Mozambique have strengthened & elevated locally led digital development at this year’s Global Digital Development Forum. Thank you to Sarah Corley, CEO Alliance of Digital Finance Associations, Gavin Krugel, CEO Digital Frontiers, Esselina Macome, CEO FSD Mozambique and João Gaspar, President Fintech.MZ for sharing their experiences and impact. View the recording of the discussion here.
In 2016, Esselina had become increasingly concerned about the human capacity and capabilities gap in the inclusive digital finance field. She had experienced first-hand the effects that having access to a small talent pool working in this area which included frequent senior staff attrition, rising employment costs, and the need to rely on international consultants. The nuances of digital finance and designing for the poor and excluded were not well-understood at this time, whilst the volume of unbanked/excluded Mozambicans remained high. It was this realisation that prompted the partnership between FSD Mozambique and Digital Frontiers Institute, and the implementation of a comprehensive capacity building programme focused on inclusive digital finance.
The programme initially provided access to online courses such as Certificate in Digital Money and Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, where Mozambican participants learnt interactively, online, alongside peers from across the globe. Comprehensive capacity building however goes beyond the digital classroom and requires opportunities for continuous professional development and to connect with peers on the same journey and build those crucial human connections. To allow for this a Community of Practice (COP) was established in Mozambique in 2017 with students and alumni invited to meet and discuss the course content and apply a local context lens to it. They were also invited to join a global digital finance group on LinkedIn, WhatsApp groups were established, webinars were delivered, and access was provided to a cultivated knowledge bank. All these elements provided an opportunity for peers engage with each other, share learnings, experiences, innovations, and challenges.
Now in 2022 we have seen the outcomes and impact of this targeted intervention. There is now a growing talent pool of certified Digital Finance Professionals working in Mozambique with over 115 individuals trained and 72 COP meetings held with over 1200 attendees. The COP has continued to add value with Esselina and João as COP facilitators, they have been instrumental in galvanising and inspiring the community. Globally DFI’s community of digital finance professionals has grown rapidly to around 15,000 individuals.
As well as building more in-country expertise, there have been many other outcomes from this intervention including; the emergence of new local Fintech players, which is leading to more innovation around bridging the gap between financial services and technology, the learning combined with discussions at COP meetings have contributed to the revision and development of regulation, such as in the area of agent banking and use of blockchain technology in Mozambique, and in general there is more harmonisation across the ecosystem.
Another key outcome was the development of Fintech.MZ, the Mozambique Fintech Association, established by João and other community members, which formally launched in 2020. The Fintech Association of Mozambique works to increase financial inclusion by advocating for and developing an inclusive digital financial ecosystem, as well as promotion of investment opportunities for locally developed technologies, which are built with local market context in mind. Fintech.MZ has 23 corporate members, 25 individual members and has produced two annual fintech reports. They have also delivered two Fintech Weeks which more than 700 people attended and included a FinTech Innovation Award contest, in 2022, that involved 15 Mozambican start-ups with digital projects in the areas of Fintech and Insure Tech. Fintech. MZ is also a founding member of the Alliance of Digital Finance Associations.
Fintech.MZ is also partnering in policy development and entrepreneurship initiatives, including:
- Participating at four financial inclusion working groups at the invitation of Bank of Mozambique
- Contributing to the development of new regulations on tiered KYC, PSP types and supervisory frameworks, SIM card regulation
- A position paper on electronic payment taxes
- “REALIZA” program in partnership with the World Bank, which is supporting 700 women entrepreneurs to develop their businesses and improve their access to finance, markets, and networking opportunities in the Mozambican ecosystem
- PUXAP, a Vodacom program, with a focus on the promotion of young digital entrepreneurship and innovative technological solutions focused on the Mozambican context. Fintech was a member of the jury to select the 12 finalists for the accelerator program.
This is an example of how capacity building programmes can foster a collaborative, cross-sector environment for locally led inclusive digital ecosystems that are making an impact. An important question to consider is replicability – can this work beyond Mozambique and beyond digital finance? In short, the answer is yes, absolutely. There are twelve other national digital finance associations which have been established from DFI’s COPs and seven more are in formation. Many of these associations too have their own impact stories to share. DFI and now the Alliance are supporting these associations to develop purpose, constitutions, legalities, logos & branding and to share their learnings and successes with each other.
These associations also drove the formation of the Alliance of Digital Finance Associations, which has been established to provide a voice for the digital finance profession, support and promote in-country associations, and catalyse partnerships and innovation. The Alliance now has fourteen digital finance association members, with more expected to join during 2022. DFI is an Honorary Member of the Alliance because of the opportunities provided to capacity build digital finance professionals and also as it is currently incubating the Alliance.
The Alliance is proud to have members such as Fintech.MZ and DFI, who are making an impact on both capacity of professionals and financial inclusion in their country. The outcomes of this collaboration demonstrate what can be achieved with increased skills, knowledge and opportunities to discuss and innovate together.