Josephine Kibe answers questions about the Gateway Academy's new training platform
Human capacity is a critical component of delivering financial services, yet many financial service providers (FSPs), particularly those targeting the poor in developing countries, consistently struggle to develop and manage their human capital. Gateway Academy, an initiative developed by CGAP in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, is using e-learning to scale up existing human capital development efforts for financial inclusion by working with Training Service Providers (TSPs) in seven target Sub-Saharan African countries — Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Ghana.
On 1 February 2018, the Microfinance Gateway hosted a webinar featuring Gateway Academy, in response to strong interest in this project and how it seeks to close the gap between demand and supply in the financial inclusion capacity building market. After the webinar, we caught up with Josephine Kibe, Business Development Officer for Gateway Academy and asked her just a few more questions about this exciting initiative.
Gateway: Let’s start with the basics. How does Gateway Academy work with financial service providers (FSPs) and training service providers (TSPs)?
Josephine: We seek to build capacity on both demand and supply sides, and to support each in a way that closes the gap and creates market efficiency. To achieve this, we are providing a marketplace where selected training service providers can upload quality content and any financial service provider, both human resources staff as well as an individual learner, can register for courses. We have an initial set of courses currently available, and are continuing to work with training providers so that course options and providers increase. At the same time, we engage constantly with FSPs to ensure that the content and the platform meets their needs. To date, we have had over 250 learners from more than 15 FSPs participate in courses in our target countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the numbers are continuing to grow.
Gateway: What is the e-learning experience like on Gateway Academy? Is it mostly text and videos or are there discussions?
Josephine: The delivery type depends on the course, and ranges from self-paced learning to highly facilitated online courses and blended learning – which combines online with in-person training. For example, “Essentials of Digital Financial Services Agent Networks,” provided by Helix Institute of Digital Finance, is asynchronous (meaning that learners complete the content at their own pace), facilitated, and cohort-based. This means that throughout the course, learners interact with peers and facilitators.
We’ve been excited by feedback that shows learners appreciate the opportunity to learn from others outside their organization. Our current course brochure provides further descriptions of each course, along with the delivery model.
Gateway: How do you assess new content needs? Is new training content being accepted? If so, what is the process and is there any cost to the training provider?
Josephine: We’re continually building our knowledge base. Initially, we carried out a demand study three years ago that provided us great insight into the content needs that banks and microfinance institutions had. And we remain in constant discussions with financial providers to refine the content areas and make the content more relevant to their needs.
So yes, we are accepting content from new training service providers (TSPs). The content should be in line with the areas of demand that we’ve identified. Support in digitizing content depends on what stage the training provider is at the time, and our team works with each TSP to provide support on business modeling and how effectively to price their e-learning course.
After we review the lean canvas, which is a type of business plan that outlines the case for digitizing the content, we then meet to discuss and agree on estimates related to activities, anticipated actual costs and responsibilities. For more information, please see the For Training Service Providers section of our website, where you can find resources such as our demand study and contact information to speak further with someone from Gateway Academy.
Gateway: How do you evaluate the different e-learning programs?
Josephine: We have developed a key performance indicator (KPI) index for learner engagement which captures all aspects of a learner's journey on the course. We benchmark learners’ understanding of the course topic at the start and follow up to see whether that changed at the end of the course. We also follow up with the learner several weeks after the course ends to see if the learners are applying what they learned and if not why not. We then offer feedback and suggestions to our financial institution liaisons.
We are also working with financial institution to come up with value-added reporting to them. We will continue to refine the KPIs we track based on demand.
Gateway: How has this initiative evolved? What kind of feedback are you getting from learners?
Josephine: There has been so much work done behind the scenes before the platform www.gateway.academy was live. We did testing with shorter modules of content on other platforms, trying them out with a number of learners from various institutions, and then we took everything we learned to create our platform. Now that we’re in Beta stage and learners are completing full courses, it’s been great to hear positive feedback and realize that Gateway Academy has such potential. Learners value content and facilitators they cannot otherwise access; they value customized content in the African context, and the fact that they are learning from peers across their country and region.
Gateway: What is next for Gateway Academy?
Josephine: We are working on a community of practice to bring together human resources professionals in different financial institutions. The aim is for them to be able to learn and support each other in areas such as building effective teams and culture, and to share focused evidence and impact work on the effectiveness of their organizations’ learning and development systems and practices.
We are also working towards expanding beyond our initial seven focus countries to move to the rest of Africa and eventually to other parts of the world.